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American Heart Association Saddened by Death of Surgical Pioneer Michael E. DeBakey

DALLAS, July 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Volunteers and staff of the American Heart Association extend their sympathy to the family and friends of Michael E. DeBakey, who died yesterday at the age of 99.

"Michael DeBakey is a legend in cardiovascular medicine and is personally responsible for developing the field of cardiovascular surgery," said Timothy Gardner, M.D., president of the American Heart Association. "He single-handedly started surgery of the aorta, the main artery in the body, and his pioneering work in heart surgery was critical in bringing this life-saving therapy to millions of patients throughout the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time."

At the age of 23, while still a medical student at Tulane University in New Orleans, he showed hints of contributions to come when he invented the roller pump. This device became an integral part of the heart-lung machine and helped make open-heart surgery safer and widely available. His new generation heart assist pump, developed at the other end of his incredible career while in his 80's, is evidence of his continued contributions well beyond the time when most of his generation of cardiovascular pioneers entered into well deserved retirement.

DeBakey performed more than 60,000 cardiovascular procedures and trained thousands of surgeons from around the world. He performed the first aortocoronary bypass operation and the first successful carotid endarterectomy, which established the field of surgery for strokes. An endarterectomy surgically removes an obstruction hindering blood flow through the carotid artery to the brain. An equally important part of his contribution to the medical world are his many residents who themselves went on to have successful careers as chairmen and directors of their own academic surgical programs in the United States and abroad.

Just months ago, Dr. DeBakey personally accepted the Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, capping off his remarkable career with this unique honor.

"DeBakey's legacy will live on in so many ways -- through the thousands of patients he treated directly and through his creation of a generation of physician educators, who will carry his legacy far into the future. His advances will continue to be the building blocks for new treatments and surgical procedures for years to come," said Gardner.

SOURCE American Heart Association
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