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100,000 Hearts

PDF Denton Arthur Cooley (born August 22, 1920) is an American heart surgeon famous for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. Cooley is also founder and surgeon in-chief of The Texas Heart Institute, consultant in Cardiovascular Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital, and a clinical professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Cooley graduated in 1941 from the University of Texas, where he majored in zoology. He became interested in surgery through several pre-med classes he attended in college and began his medical education at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He completed his medical degree and his surgical training at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, where he also completed his internship. At Johns Hopkins, he worked with Dr. Alfred Blalock and assisted in the first "Blue Baby" procedure to correct an infant's congenital heart defect.

In 1946 Cooley was called to active duty with the Army Medical Corps. There, he served as chief of surgical services at the station hospital in Linz, Austria, and was discharged in 1948 with the rank of captain. He then returned to complete his residency at Johns Hopkins and remain as an instructor in surgery. In 1950 he went to London to work with Lord Russell Brock.

In the 1950s Cooley returned to Houston to become associate professor of surgery. During the 1950s, Cooley began working with Michael E. DeBakey. During that time he worked on developing a new method of removing aortic aneurysms, the bulging weak spots that may develop in the wall of the artery.

In 1962 he founded The Texas Heart Institute with private funds and, following a dispute with Michael E. DeBakey.

His skill as a surgeon was demonstrated as he successfully performed numerous bloodless open-heart surgeries.

The 1960s saw a number of advances in Cooley's career. He and his colleagues worked on developing new artificial heart valves from 1962 to 1967; during that time period mortality for heart valve transplants fell from 70% to 8%. In 1969, he became the first heart surgeon to implant an artificial heart designed by Domingo Liotta in a man, Haskell Karp, who lived for 65 hours. The next year, in 1970, "he performed the first implantation of an artificial heart in a human when no heart replacement was immediately available."


Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1984, the nation's highest civilian award

The René Leriche Prize, the highest honor of the International Surgical Society

Awarded the National Medal of Technology by Bill Clinton in 1998

He is a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Department of Medical Sciences.

In addition, Cooley has authored or co-authored more than 1,400 scientific articles and 12 books.

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