|Vol. 20, No. 19||October 15, 1998|
Remembrances and Reflections (continued) . . .
Dr. DeBakey has never wavered in his support of veterans. And that goes back to his time in the service and his interest in battle casualties and establishing the MASH units. That concept saved many, many lives since then. And in all these years since World War II he has insisted that veterans get the best of care, and he feels that veterans have already paid for their service. This fine VA hospital in Houston is here because of him, but before he became involved in it the care was not very good. Almost single-handedly, he turned it around. He asked me to serve on the dean's committee in 1977, and it's through that committee that the medical care has remained so splendid. I, in fact, nominated him for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Gold Medal. He's been a great friend of our veterans.
-Peter Stack, Baylor College of Medicine/Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center Council of Deans
I love the man.
We've been friends and collaborators for over 40 years, and there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. Recently I was in San Francisco and he called me. He said, "Harris, I need you." I hopped on a plane and got right back.
He has that effect on people, largely because of the unbelievable energy, devotion and charity he himself possesses.
Texas and the Texas Medical Center are incredibly fortunate to have him here. As far as Baylor is concerned, Dr. DeBakey essentially raised it from the dead. He was instrumental in developing the board of trustees and in our interactions with the community. He's given the medical center enormous impetus, and has been such a fine leader in developing our research - not just in heart disease, but in stroke and cancer.
He's done so doggone much. I think he's the most imaginative individual of our time.
- Harris Busch, M.D., The Michael E. DeBakey Distinguished Service Professor, Baylor College of Medicine
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to pay tribute to Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, and am extremely pleased to serve as the principal of the school that is honored to carry his distinguished name. Dr. DeBakey continues to amaze me with the personal attention he pays to the high school, and is always willing to respond to requests from our students. Whether he is autographing hundreds of commemorative programs or inviting motivational medical speakers to address 300 ninth graders, Dr. DeBakey's genuine affection for "HP" is always evident.
Dr. DeBakey is an incredible human being, and I have been extremely fortunate to be associated with him. Twenty-six years ago, he displayed a bold vision in laying the groundwork for the school that now bears his name. That school model has since been replicated many times throughout the nation, and has been locally transformed from a modest beginning to a nationally recognized United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon School of Excellence with a rigorous college preparatory program that is unparalleled.
The students, parents, faculty, staff, DHSHP Community Advisory Committee, the superintendent's staff and Board of Education of the Houston Independent School District join me in extending our thanks, appreciation, and congratulations to a truly remarkable person. Thank you, Dr. DeBakey, for allowing DHSHP to share your name with the rest of the world.
- Charlesetta Collins-Deason, Ed.D., Principal, Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions
Dr. Michael DeBakey's impact on Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Medical Center is truly remarkable. He came to Baylor in 1948 with a vision not only to create an outstanding department of surgery, but also to help create a first-rate academic medical center. Dr. DeBakey understood the importance of a medical school having strong affiliated teaching hospitals. In this regard, he was singularly responsible for Baylor's first two affiliations, the Veterans Administration Hospital and the Jefferson Davis Hospital. With these affiliations in place, he then started the first surgical residency program in Houston. His surgical breakthroughs of the 1950s and 1960s have become legend and helped put Baylor College of Medicine and The Methodist Hospital in the international spotlight. Dr. DeBakey also focused his tireless energies on important national issues. He led the movement to establish the National Library of Medicine; chaired President Johnson's Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke; chaired the Lasker Awards Jury; and was influential with members of Congress to increase support for medical research. I first met Mike DeBakey when, in 1966, he helped recruit me to Baylor. Shortly thereafter, I witnessed firsthand his surgical skills, stamina, and dedication to helping patients as we worked together as colleagues day and night, in taking care of patients who had undergone heart, lung and kidney transplants. Several years later, in 1969, I witnessed his administrative and leadership skills when he took over the helm of Baylor as a private, freestanding medical college. During his term as Baylor's president, he challenged the faculty to achieve at a new level of excellence and set the stage for the advancement of the college to its preeminent position today. It has been extremely gratifying to see that even after his retirement as president he has continued to work relentlessly for the betterment of Baylor - and has served as an inspiration to me and others on the faculty as we meet the challenges of medicine in the 21st century.
- William T. Butler, M.D., Chancellor, Baylor College of Medicine
Dr. Michael E. DeBakey has enhanced the stature of the Texas Medical Center in many important and continuing ways through the years. His pioneering and significant work in education, research and medical care serve as inspirational models of achievement to people in health care everywhere. At 90 years of age, he is as productive and imaginative as he has ever been. Many of his dreams have become reality - the Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Professions, the National Library of Medicine, the Dean's Committees at VA Hospitals, the Harris County Hospital District, the excellence of Baylor College of Medicine, and of its affiliated hospitals, particularly The Methodist Hospital, surgical innovations and many other monuments to his genius. New projects are always emerging: the artificial heart, telemedicine, lectures on the Internet, and space biomedicine are all current areas of his remarkable creativity.
It is a rare privilege for those of us who work in the Texas Medical Center to be in Dr. DeBakey's presence. His great accomplishments have been matched by his wisdom and generosity of spirit. We thank him for so much.
- Richard E. Wainerdi, Ph.D., President and CEO, Texas Medical Center
As I worked my way up the Methodist organization, I watched with admiration as Dr. DeBakey and his colleagues performed surgical miracles on patients from all over the world. Heads of state from places like China and Singapore; monarchs like King Leopold of Belgium; entertainers including Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Wayne Newton; American senators, congressmen, and presidents; they all came and considered them-selves friends of the great surgeon. And so did people with no titles and no means from places like India, Mexico, Guatemala and Nigeria. Dr. DeBakey and his great team put Methodist on the world map and helped highlight Methodist's other great physicians and surgeons. Now, more than 200 Methodist physicians admit patients from foreign countries.
When I became chief executive officer in 1983, Dr. DeBakey and I began to work closely together. Under his leadership, Methodist reentered transplantation - not just hearts; Dr. DeBakey rightly insisted Methodist become a multi-organ transplant center. He and I travelled together extensively over the 14 years of my tenure in the corner office. Wherever we went, he was greeted with more respect, admiration, and awe than any politician or movie star. And patients would approach him in Istanbul and in Abilene with love and adulation. He remembered each one.
Of course, Dr. DeBakey could be difficult, too, at times. He was unswerving in his commitment to excellence! He insisted Methodist meet his standards and when he perceived it didn't, he was immediately in my office. He also suffered no fools. The story is told (it might even be true), that a resident assisting him in surgery made a mistake. Dr. DeBakey said to him, "Look at my hands. Do you know how your hands are different than mine?" The resident, being quick or he wouldn't have been in Dr. DeBakey's program, came up with a surprisingly good response, "Sir, your hands have 40 more years of experience than mine." Dr. DeBakey, said in his low, soft, but steely voice, "No, my hands are attached to a brain."
- Larry Mathis, President and CEO, The Methodist Hospital, 1983-1997
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