DeBakey Family Legacy
The DeBakey family’s innovations and advancements in the medical field represent a dedication to both science and service, an intersection of medical advancement and altruism.
Michael E. DeBakey was a pioneering cardiovascular surgeon. Through his inventions and his humanitarian deeds over a career spanning more than 75 years, he lived out his personal standard of excellence; the New York Times reported he famously asked surgery residents, “If you were on the operating table, would you want a perfectionist or somebody who cared little for detail?” He performed surgery on more than 60,000 patients: from world leaders and celebrities to the common citizen. Prior to the invention of many modern medical technologies, Dr. DeBakey utilized his imagination and innovative skill to care for patients. During World War II, Dr. DeBakey volunteered to serve as a medical officer under the Surgeon General. His work in modernizing the medicine of war is considered paramount in the development of military medicine as it is practiced today, saving countless lives and drastically reducing mortality.
Dr. DeBakey’s sisters, Lois and Selma, have served as pioneers in their own right in the field of biomedical communications. Recognizing the value of effective communication between patients and physicians, Lois and Selma sought to introduce the power and art of language to the medical profession: to teach “the language of medicine”. In doing so, they developed the first communications curriculum in medical education. These courses provided insight into the highly nuanced ethics and etiquette of medical communication and are still taught in medical schools today. Their work is considered the gold standard in the field of medical communication.
The New York Times published an extensive biography of Dr. DeBakey following his death in 2008. To learn more about the DeBakey family and the legacy they have inspired, access the story at: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/13/health/13debakey.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss