Heart Surgeon Michael DeBakey Who Operated Russian President Dies

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Dr. Michael DeBakey

World famous heart surgery specialist Dr. Michael DeBakey who was the heart surgeon operating the Russian president Boris Yeltsin dies at age 99. Dr. DeBakey passed away in the Methodist Hospital in Houston on Friday night.

Many world leaders and presidents dotted the list of nearly 60,000 heart surgeries that Dr. Michael DeBakey has performed, including the late American presidents John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, the last Shah of Iran, King Hussein of Jordan and Boris Yeltsin of Russia.

Dr. DeBakey's fame rose even higher when in 1996 the 88 years old heart surgeon was invited to Russia to assist in the operation of then ill president Boris Yeltsin. Dr. Michael DeBakey's relationship with Russian doctors began at a surgical meeting in the late 1950's in Mexico City. "There, Dr. DeBakey said in an interview, he spotted a small group of forlorn Russian heart surgeons, including one who trained Dr. Akchurin and who later became the Soviet health minister. Dr. DeBakey quickly arranged a lunch so the Russians could meet their American counterparts. The lunch also led the Russians to stop in Houston on their return to Russia to watch Dr. DeBakey operate. "

Baylor, Methodist mourn death of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey

Learn more about the life of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey and view a photo gallery
On behalf of the entire Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital families, it is with profound sadness that we announce the death of pioneering heart surgeon Dr. Michael E. DeBakey. The college, the hospital, and indeed the entire world, have lost a great man last evening.

Dr. DeBakey died at 9:38 p.m. Friday, July 11 from natural causes at The Methodist Hospital in Houston.

In a career spanning more than 70 years, Dr. DeBakey performed more than 60,000 heart surgeries. Other surgeons have used his innovations in cardiovascular surgery worldwide to save the lives of countless millions.


“Dr. DeBakey’s reputation brought many people into this institution, and he treated them all: heads of state, entertainers, businessmen and presidents, as well as people with no titles and no means,” said Ron Girotto, president of The Methodist Hospital System. “He always said that Methodist is a hospital with a soul … and for more than 50 years, Dr. DeBakey has been the heart and soul of Methodist.”

“He has improved the human condition and touched the lives of generations to come,” continued Girotto. “We will greatly miss him.”

“With each passing year, Dr. DeBakey continued to provide great wisdom to those who sought his counsel,” said Dr. Peter G. Traber, BCM president. “As Baylor College of Medicine’s first President, he set a standard for preeminence and never let anyone here forget the importance of leadership in academic medicine. We have lost a man who was a great physician, educator, leader and above all, a great friend.”

“We will miss him, but we will honor his memory by continuing to excel in those things he taught us,” Traber said.

“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.”

“Dr. DeBakey was an incredible man and his contributions to medicine are unmatched,” said Dr. Bobby R. Alford, Chancellor of Baylor College of Medicine and Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at Baylor and The Methodist Hospital. “He was a dear friend and colleague for more than 40 years. He will be missed dearly.”

For more information on the legacy of Dr. Michael DeBakey, visit www.bcm.edu and www.methodisthealth.com.

Dr. Michael E. DeBakey Janet Leatherwood