Dr. Michael DeBakey

We are sorry to learn of the death of Dr. Michael DeBakey. DeBakey was a world-renowned heard surgeon who developed the roller pump, an essential component of the life-saving heart lung machine (used during Cardiopulmonary Bypass) which propels the blood through the tubing. His pioneering work in the field of cardiology later led him to perform the first coronary artery heart bypass, and more recently he has been a key figure in the development of ventricular assist devices that keep patients alive while they wait for a suitable transplant organ to become available.

He has won the two highest civillian honors in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1987, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007, as well as countless other awards in science. These awards recognized not only his great contributions to science and surgery but also his dedication to improving health policy and practice, from the introduction of M.A.S.H units in the US military, to Medicare for the elderly, to the internationally renowned National Library of Medicine.

We are especially grateful for DeBakey’s determination to improve public understanding of the crucial role of animals in medical research, one that he was particularly familiar with from his own research.  The courage, tenacity and charm he displayed as chairman of the Foundation for Biomedical Research will long continue to serve as an example to advocates of humane and responsible animal research.