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Michael DeBakey, Famed Heart Surgeon - Dead at 99

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Michael DeBakey, the man who first performed heart bypass surgery, died Friday night at Methodist Hospital in Houston at the age of 99 from natural causes, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

The renowned cardiovascular surgeon invented many devices to help the ailing human heart; while still in medical school in 1932, he designed the roller pump, which became a key part of the heart-lung machine and opened the door to open-heart surgery. He also was behind the first efforts to develop artificial hearts and heart pumps for those waiting for heart transplants.

In 2006, DeBakey even underwent a procedure that he himself had developed -- the surgical repair of a damaged aorta.

While at the Baylor College of Medicine, officials there said, he helped transform the school into a nationally respected medical institution.

"Dr. DeBakey's reputation brought many people into this institution, and he treated them all: heads of state, entertainers, businessmen and presidents, as well as people with no titles and no means," Ron Girotto, president of the Methodist Hospital System, told the AP.

Cardiovascular surgeon Dr. George Noon called his professional partner "the greatest surgeon of the 20th century," who "single-handedly raised the standard of medical care, teaching and research around the world."

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