Little Bits of History

Healthy Hearts

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 23, 2010

Dr. Michael E. DeBakey

November 23, 1964: Dr. Michael E. DeBakey performs the first successful coronary artery bypass graft [CABG] operation. DeBakey was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA in 1908 to Lebanese immigrants. He received his MD from Tulane University in New Orleans and joined their teaching staff in 1937.

He volunteered to serve in World War II and became the Director of Surgical Consultants’ Division. He initiated the idea of Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals [MASH] for rapid treatment of the wounded. The idea proved highly successful in Korea and again in Vietnam.

After WWII, DeBakey moved to Houston, Texas and Baylor University College of Medicine. He continued his innovative practice and groundbreaking research. He invented or improved surgical instrumentation that even today bears his name. He pioneered the use of Dacron arteries, artificial hearts, heart pumps and transplants as well as surgical improvement for the vascular condition of the heart. He has been advisor to presidents and world leaders and helped to establish the largest collection of medical literature in the National Library of Medicine.

In the year 2003, in the US alone more than 1.2 million angioplasties were performed. This less invasive procedure opens the arteries in the heart and can forestall the more invasive CABG that Dr. DeBakey pioneered. Even so, the more serious surgical procedure was performed nearly one-half million times in the same year.

“Americans spend $17 billion a year on bypass operations.” – Betty Fussell in the New York Times, December 23, 1993

“I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for.” – James H. Boren

“Surgery is by far the worst snob among the handicrafts.” – Austin O’Malley

“The practice of medicine is a thinker’s art the practice of surgery a plumber’s.” – Martin H. Fischer

Also on this day, in 1644 John Milton published a pamphlet advocating against censorship.

One Response

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  1. Mark said, on November 23, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    My 91-year old Stepmother just had a pacemaker inserted, in no small part due to DeBakey’s groundbreaking work.

    It was the size of a silver dollar and has a battery with a seven-year lifespan. The surgery took less than one hour and she went home the next day.


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