Dr. Michael Ellis DeBakey, internationally acclaimed as the father of modern cardiovascular surgery — and considered by many to be the greatest surgeon ever — died Friday night at The Methodist Hospital in Houston.
Medical statesman, chancellor emeritus of Baylor College of Medicine, and a surgeon at The Methodist Hospital since 1949, DeBakey trained thousands of surgeons over several generations, achieving legendary status decades before his death. During his career, he estimated he had performed more than 60,000 operations. His patients included the famous — Russian President Boris Yeltsin and movie actress Marlene Dietrich among them — and the uncelebrated.
“Dr. DeBakey singlehandedly raised the standard of medical care, teaching and research around the world,” said Dr. George Noon, a cardiovascular surgeon and longtime partner of DeBakey’s. “He was the greatest surgeon of the 20th century, and physicians everywhere are indebted to him for his contributions to medicine.”
My father’s cardiologist and cardiac surgeon trained with DeBakey and his team. And so did my mother’s, and uncles’, and mine. His skill and innovation made it possible for untold numbers to live.