President Bush signs bill, awarding Dr. Michael DeBakey Congressional Gold MedalHouston, TX - 10/16/2007
Dr. Michael E. DeBakey was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal Tuesday, the highest civilian award bestowed by the U.S. Congress, for his lifetime of medical achievement and public service.
President George Bush finalized the award today by signing a bill approved in recent weeks by the House of Representatives and the Senate.
"After learning that I would receive the prestigious honor of the Congressional Gold Medal, my pride as a citizen of the United States of America is overflowing," DeBakey said. DeBakey, 99, has spent six decades at The Methodist Hospital as a pioneering heart surgeon credited with many medical firsts.
“He has been able to accomplish in his lifetime what it would normally take four or five individuals to achieve,” said Dr. George Noon, a Methodist Hospital surgeon and partner of DeBakey’s for more than 40 years. “He is deservedly known around the world for his contributions to mankind, and he certainly deserves this award.”
Only 196 Congressional Gold Medals have been awarded since 1776, when the first was given to George Washington. With this honor, Dr. DeBakey is in the company of Washington, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, Jonas Salk, Pope John Paul II and others whose lives have made an impact on the world.
"Dr. Michael DeBakey is one of those singular geniuses whose name will truly be remembered in 1,000 years,” said Congressman John Culberson, one of the original cosponsors of the bill. “He has genuinely made contributions that will last for many generations, and his work will continue to save lives well into the future."
The next step is to design and cast the actual medal, which will bear his likeness. A die is then made and the medal – as well as copies for purchase – is struck at the Philadelphia Mint. DeBakey is expected to receive his medal in a ceremony before the end of this year.
For more information about Dr. Michael E. DeBakey and the