Sunday, July 13, 2008

Surgical Giant

Farewell to Dr. Michael DeBakey, truly the pre-eminent surgeon of the 20th century. Through sheer effort and creative innovation, he almost single-handedly chiseled out the entire field of cardiovascular surgery on his own. Nowadays, triple and quadruple coronary artery bypass operations have become almost routine. Thoracic aneurysms and dissections are manageable entities. And the techniques were all initially described and honed by Dr. DeBakey. There are stories of him going straight from the OR to his engineer's office to discuss a tool he needed or a device that he had in mind to facillitate a procedure. Bypass roller pumps and Dacron vessel grafts and Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) and a host of various eponymous surgical instruments were fruits of his labors and dedication. He was a giant of the golden era of medical innovation in general, and surgery in particular. His name goes etched into the pantheon right next to Billroth and Kocher and Halstead.

Some Debakey quotes:
"Man was born to work hard"
"Once you excise the skin, you find they are all very similar"
"I like my work very much. I like it so much I don't want to do anything else."

RIP, Dr DeBakey....


Bongi said...

even the great must face death in the end.

Jeffrey Parks MD FACS said...

inevitably, Bongi. This guy was just so indomitable...hell he had the "DeBakey Procedure" performed on himself when he was 97 years old....

Anonymous said...

can you go have a tool designed for your use anymore? you need approval, testing, certificates, etc etc.

should he have had the debakey performed on himself at 97? is that a good use of our resources?

regardless, godspeed dr debakey.
the world is better off for you having been here.