Michael DeBakey Dead at 99

Heart pioneer developed key devices, operated on thousands
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 12, 2008 7:25 AM CDT
President Bush talks with Dr. Michael DeBakey, 99, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 23, 2008, during a ceremony honoring DeBakey with the Congressional Gold Medal.    (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Michael DeBakey, the pioneering heart doctor considered to be the father of modern cardiovascular surgery,  died last night at 99 in Houston, the Houston Chronicle reports.  During his long career, DeBakey operated on some 60,000 patients, including figures like Russian president Boris Yeltsin, trained thousands of surgeons, and developed key surgical procedures and devices still used today.

With patients he exuded quiet, reassuring authority, the Chronicle writes, but "in surgery, DeBakey was famous for his withering remarks, delivered in a velvety Louisiana drawl, directed at the anxious and ambitious residents operating alongside him." Some of his 50 surgical inventions included a roller pump for heart-lung machines, which he developed while still in medical school, and a device to assist the heartbeat used in children as young as 5. He called the heart a work of art that “God makes, and we have yet to duplicate."