Houston Heart Surgeon Receives High Honor

Renowned Houston heart surgeon Michael DeBakey is awarded the Congressional Gold Medal . The pioneer of the heart bypass procedure is also responsible for developing the idea of the battlefield mobile surgical hospitals known as MASH units. Houston's Public Radio's Pat Hernandez has the story.
Considered the premier cardio-vascular surgeon of our time, Dr Michael Ellis DeBakey is the undisputed pioneer in many heart surgery procedures performed on millions over the last 50-years, and inventor of many life saving devices used in those procedures. In fact, at the age of 99, DeBakey is the oldest survivor of his own operation.Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says many combat veterans owe their lives to him:

"When he witnessed hundreds of deaths while serving in World War 2, he conceived the idea of stabilizing the wounded on the battlefield, thus creating the MASH which has saved thousands of soldiers'lives since, not to mention a hit television series. He is the father of the VA Health Care system designed for the needs of our retired warriors."

President Bush signed the bill awarding DeBakey the medal in October:

"Doctor DeBakey has an impressive resume. But his truest legacy is not inscribed on a medal or etched into stone. It is written on the human heart. His legacy is the unlost hours with family and friends who are still with us because of his healing touch."

DeBakey accepted the award with deep seated gratitude and he commended Congress for its understanding and support of medical research:

"You have no idea what you've done with medical research in improving the medical care of this country. It is the envy of the world. And I hope you will continue to give it the consideration you have given it so far."

Doctor DeBakey joins the likes of George Washington, Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama as recipients of the Congressional gold medal.

Pat Hernandez KUHF Houston Public Radio News.
Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez


Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...