Tuesday, July 15, 2008

r.i.p. dr. debakey

with the rash of media personality deaths lately, i must include the death of dr. michael debakey. he actually died on the same day as tony snow but for some reason i didn't hear about it until yesterday. most med students probably hear debakey's name before knowing anything about him because he has a surgical clamp named after him. dr. debakey was a pioneer in surgeries of the heart and aorta and one of the most well-known and respected surgeons/physicians around. he was responsible for coming up with the idea of mash units among many other inventions and ideas. there are many obits around but here's one from across the pond. i like his quote on operating on kings, heads of states and the less fortunate: "Once you incise the skin, you find that they are all very similar."

there's an article in the new york times that came out last year that is a fascinating read if you have a few minutes. here's the link. basically, he suffered a problem for which he pioneered the surgical treatment but he didn't want the surgery. he was 97 at the time and assumed he would be dead but ended up surviving for weeks. when he got ill enough to refuse care, his wife begged the staff and they did the surgery. debakey recovered and actually thanked them for doing the surgery and he was glad to have another chance. this article really made me rethink the issue of advance directives and "dnr" (do not resuscitate) orders. more on that later.