DeBakey, Michael (Ellis)(1908– ) cardiologist, surgeon; born in Lake Charles, La. While he was still a medical student, he invented a major component of the heart-lung machines (1932) that made open heart surgery possible. He joined the faculty at Tulane University in 1937. During World War II he helped the Surgeon General develop mobile army surgical hospitals (MASH units). He returned to Tulane for two years and then joined Baylor University's medical school (1948). In the early 1950s, he became proficient in treating aortic aneurysms by replacing the section with a graft of blood vessels. He performed the first of 12 heart transplants (1968); the procedure was stopped until 1984 when controls on organ rejection were improved. He became president (1969) and then chancellor (1978) of the Baylor College of Medicine (Waco, Texas). A prolific writer, he published The Living Heart (1977) and The Living Heart Diet (1984).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.