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News Updates from the Texas Heart Institute

Dr. Denton A. Cooley Receives Highest Award from Nation's Oldest Surgical Society

Houston, Texas (April 14, 2010) – Dr. Denton A. Cooley, founder and president emeritus of the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (THI at St. Luke's), has been awarded the American Surgical Association's 2010 Medallion of Scientific Achievement for his "distinguished service to surgery."

2010 Medallion of Scientific Achievement awarded to Dr. Cooley
2010 Medallion of Scientific Achievement

The prestigious award was presented to Dr. Cooley during the Association's 130th Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 8-10, 2010. The Medallion is the highest honor bestowed by the group which is the oldest and most prestigious surgical association in the United States, established in 1880.

The career of Dr. Cooley, who founded THI at St. Luke's in 1962, has spanned the history of modern cardiovascular surgery. He developed many of today's commonly used cardiovascular procedures and devices. He is best known for performing the first successful human heart transplant in the United States (1968), as well as the first clinical implants of mechanical devices—total artificial hearts (1969 and 1981) and a left ventricular assist device (1978)—as bridges to heart transplantation.

However, many of his other contributions are equally important: the first successful carotid endarterectomy as well as techniques for repairing diseased heart valves, congenital cardiac anomalies, and aortic and ventricular aneurysms. In the early days of open heart surgery, few cardiovascular surgeons did more than 2 operations per day. Dr. Cooley proved that a skilled surgeon could do up to 12 procedures per day. Because he used glucose rather than blood to prime the heart-lung machine, patients were spared unnecessary exposure to blood, and more operations could be performed. He and his team have now performed nearly 115,000 open heart operations. For these reasons, Dr. Cooley's name has become synonymous with medical and technical excellence.

Dr. Cooley has authored or coauthored more than 1,300 scientific papers and 12 books. He is a member or honorary member of over 70 professional societies, including the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society, founded by THI surgical trainees in his honor. During his career, he has trained more than 100 certified cardiac surgeons and hundreds more in fellowships.

Among his more than 120 honors and awards are the National Medal of Technology; the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian award; the Rene Leriche Prize, the highest honor of the International Surgical Society; and the Distinguished Service Award of the American Medical Association.

For media inquiries please contact:
Texas Heart Institute
Frank Michel  ♦  713-218-2210 or 832-355-9246

For THI and St. Luke's media profiles, see Public Affairs.

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