A Heart for Heroism
Every now and then, remarkable people come into the world and make tremendous contributions for the benefit of the human race.
One such person is Dr. Denton A. Cooley, born August 22, 1920, founder of the Texas Heart Institute, and a literal lifesaver. He made breakthroughs in the field of medicine, making him a hero of many. When no human heart was immediately available, Dr. Cooley performed the first implantation of an artificial one.
According to Dr. O Howard Frazier, Dr. Cooley made heart surgery safe. However, the road to this immense success wasn’t easy. In 1951, Dr. Cooley met Dr. Michael DeBakey who was his mentor and former partner.
Both men were equally amazing in the world of surgery. It was Dr. DeBakey who developed the artificial heart. However, this led to a forty-year feud (ending just a year before Dr. DeBakey’s death in 2008) when Dr. Cooley used it in a surgery.
Dr. DeBakey then accused Dr. Cooley of violating regulations on human experimentation as the artificial heart had not yet been proven to be effective. However, Dr. Cooley contended that he performed the operation regardless of the implications to save a patient’s life, which was their duty as doctors first and foremost.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Cooley, while working with Dr. DeBakey, was able to develop a technique in order to repair torn aortic aneurysms. Both doctors were also able to perfect the use of a heart machine.
Not only that, Dr. Cooley also became known for his work on the congenital heart defects in children. His skillful surgical hands were vital to the success in operations done on them.
Dr. Cooley led a team of other brilliant surgeons and together they were able to perform 118, 800 open heart surgeries. He also did not retire. Instead, he devoted his time as president emeritus at the Texas Heart Institute.
He received numerous awards for his work namely, the Presidential Medal of Honor (the highest award for a civilian), the René Leriche Prize, and the National Medal of Technology. Dr. Cooley authored twelve books and over a thousand articles.
Like Dr. Cooley, it takes one to be willing to take risks to be recognized for the efforts exerted. Along the way, there will be people who won’t share the same ways and beliefs, but one must remain steadfast and true to the goals one has set in order to surely achieve them.
Not everyone may be recognized as a hero. However, with enough courage, determination, and perhaps encouragement, we can all be heroes in our own little ways.
Altman, Lawrence K. 2016. “Dr. Denton Cooley, Whose Pioneering Heart Surgery Set Off a 40-Year Medical Feud, Dies at 96.” The New York Times, November 18. Accessed January 24, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/19/science/dr-denton-cooley-whose-pioneering-heart-surgery-set-off-a-40-year-medical-feud-dies-at-96.html?_r=0.
Maugh, Thomas H. II. 2016. “Denton Cooley, Texas surgeon who performed first successful heart transplant in U.S., dies at 96.” Los Angeles Times, November 18. Accessed January 24, 2017. http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-me-denton-cooley-snap-story.html.
Texas Heart Institute. 2016. “Denton A. Cooley, MD.” November 18. Accessed January 24, 2017. http://www.texasheart.org/AboutUs/History/cooley.cfm.
Wikipedia. “Denton Cooley.” Accessed January 24, 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denton_Cooley.