Born as Michael Dabaghi to Lebanese immigrant parents on September 7, 1908, DeBakey was not only a cardiac surgeon, but also an innovator, scientist, medical educator, and international medical statesman. He developed the roller pump at the age of 23 while he was still in medical school. Later, the roller pump became an essential component of the heart-lung machine. The pump provided a continuous flow of blood during operations. This, in turn, made open-heart surgery possible.
In the 1960s, DeBakey and his team of surgeons were among the first to record surgeries on film. A camera operator would lie prone atop a surgical film stand made to DeBakey’s specifications and record a surgeon’s eye view of the operating area.
He has also founded and chaired the Foundation for Biomedical Research, whose goal is to promote public understanding and support for animal research. DeBakey made wide use of animals in his research. He stated that scientists, veterinarians, physicians, surgeons and others who do research in animal labs are as much concerned about the care of the animals as anyone can be.
He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Foundation for Biomedical Research and in 2000 was cited as a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress.
On July 11, 2008, DeBakey died at The Methodist Hospital in Houston at age 99.