July 18th, 2008
12:10 PM ET

Remembering a medical legend, with gratitude

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/18/art.debakey.cnn.jpg caption="Dr. Michael DeBakey"]

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

If you mention Michael DeBakey’s name to just about any surgeon in the country, you are likely
to get a colorful story. Called a “rock star,” and the greatest surgeon of the 20th century, Dr.
DeBakey no doubt had a profound influence on the world of medicine. He saved tens of
thousands of lives, created the modern MASH unit, and helped found the National Library of
Medicine. On a personal note, it was Michael DeBakey who pioneered the coronary artery
bypass procedure to prevent heart attacks, which is the reason my own father is with me
today and doing so well.

More recently, Debakey in his 90s developed a ventricular assist device. It is an incredible
machine that is used to give patients with heart failure a little boost while they are waiting for
a transplant. If you ask him where he got so much life inspiration, he will tell you he read a new
book at least once a week, and in his case it was the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He read it
cover to cover. While he was a professor and a “maestro,” it turns out he was also an eternal


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Medical News
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Emma in Houston TX.

    YES...he will be missed. He helped everyone. No matter what age, race, sex or religion. Rich or poor... did not matter to him. Thanks to him, we all have a better chance of living longer. He was a VERY SPECIAL man !! My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    July 20, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  2. Cindy

    Sorry to hear that such a great man passed away. He definitely did a lot in his life time to further our lives! My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.


    July 18, 2008 at 12:28 pm |