A tribute to Dr Michael DeBakey


The first part of this year’s Innovation Showcase will take place in the Main Hall from 12.20pm and will begin with a tribute to Dr Michael DeBakey, a true pioneer of cardiovascular and vascular surgery, from Dr Ted Diethrich. DeBakey’s achievements are too numerous to list here and his contribution to cardiovascular and vascular surgery over the past half-century cannot be emphasised enough. As well as being involved in research related to all aspects of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery, he invented the roller pump, which became an essential component of the heart-lung machine and thus helped launch the era of open-heart surgery and along with Dr Alton Ochsner, he hypothesised the link between smoking and carcinoma of the lung. He has devised many new operations, devices, and more than 50 surgical instruments for improvement of patient care.

In 1952, he performed the first US successful excision and DACRON graft replacement of aneurysms of the aorta and obstructive lesions of the major arteries and in the following year performed the first successful carotid endarterectomy, thereby establishing the field of surgery for strokes. He also performed the first successful removal and graft replacement of a fusiform aneurysm of the thoracic aorta, and in 1954, the first successful resection and graft replacement of an aneurysm of the distal aortic arch and upper descending thoracic aorta. Also in 1954, he performed the first successful resection and graft replacement of an aneurysm of the ascending aorta and the first successful resection of a dissecting aneurysm of the thoracic aorta. In 1958, to counteract narrowing of an artery caused by an endarterectomy, he performed the first successful patch-graft angioplasty and in 1964, carried out a successful aortocoronary artery bypass. In 1968, he led a team of surgeons in a historic multiple transplantation procedure in which the heart, kidneys, and one lung of a donor were transplanted into four recipients.

Nor is his worked limited to the US as he has served as a consultant to countries in Europe, the Eastern bloc, and the Middle and Far East, where he has helped establish healthcare systems, including cardiovascular surgery programmes, in countries throughout the globe, such as Belgium, China, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yugoslavia, and in Australia, New Zealand, and Central and South American countries.

However, it is not only his research that has made DeBakey a pioneer of surgery but also his contribution to the next generation of vascular surgeons. He has trained countless surgeons in his more than 50-year career in academic medicine, and he created the fellowships and residency programmes in the Michael E DeBakey Department of Surgery. He also established the General Surgery Residency, the Fellowship in Trauma and Critical Care, the Thoracic Surgery Residency, the Cardiopulmonary Perfusion Program, the Fellowship in Cardiovascular Surgery, the Pediatric Surgery Residency, the Fellowship in Cardiac Transplantation and the Vascular Surgery Residency, to name but a few.

DeBakey has served as President of many distinguished societies and was the founder and the first Editor of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, as well as serving on the Editorial Boards of numerous medical and surgical journals, including the Annals of Surgery, Surgery, Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery, Circulation, Journal of Vascular Surgery, and The Yearbook of Surgery. He has also has received more than 50 honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities, as well as numerous national and international accolades and awards from educational institutions, professional and civic organisations, and governments.