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Dr. Michael E. DeBakey one step closer to the Congressional

Houston, TX - 9/17/2007

The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to award Dr. Michael E. DeBakey the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest civilian honor, for a lifetime of medical achievement and public service.

A similar bill previously passed the Senate and a final version reconciling the House and Senate bills will soon be sent to President Bush to sign into law.

“Dr. DeBakey's inherent talent and innovative surgical techniques have saved the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people,” said Ron Girotto, president and CEO of The Methodist Hospital System in Houston. “We are honored to have been blessed with Dr. DeBakey’s leadership and extraordinary talent for the past 58 years at The Methodist Hospital and the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center. We congratulate Dr. DeBakey on this well deserved honor.” 

“Dr. DeBakey's inherent talent and innovative surgical techniques have saved the lives of thousands, if not millions, of people...”

DeBakey’s six decades at The Methodist Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine have been distinguished by a long list of firsts.  At The Methodist Hospital he performed the first successful procedure to treat patients with aneurysms, performed the first successful coronary bypass surgery using a vein graft from the leg, and he was the first to successfully implant a partial artificial heart. He supervised the first successful operation in which multiple organs - a heart, both kidneys and a lung - were transplanted from a single donor into four separate recipients.

DeBakey, 99, also developed the concept for the mobile army surgical hospitals, better known as the MASH units, to save soldiers wounded on the battlefield, after his experience in World War II.

"People from all over the nation and the world turn to Houston, and the Texas Medical Center, for its talent in medicine," said Houston Mayor Bill White.  "Pioneers like Dr. Michael DeBakey, with his immense talent and even greater drive to serve humankind, built the foundation on which the Texas Medical Center and Houston will benefit for decades to come."

There have been only 196 Congressional Gold Medals 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 such an impact on our world. 

"As the sponsor of the bill, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. DeBakey for his lifetime of commitment and service not only to the medical community but to the world," said Rep. Al Green.  "Dr. DeBakey is a pioneer in every sense of the word. His long and distinguished career has impacted nearly every aspect of modern medicine.  He has truly earned the right to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and take his place in history alongside other recipients, such as George Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa, who have had a lifetime of achievement through exceptional service."

For more information about Dr. Michael E. DeBakey and the Methodist DeBakey Heart Center, including listing of his firsts, background on his achievements and photos to download, please see http://www.debakeyheartcenter.com/.