Monday, December 19, 2011

The Houston Chronicle :: 100,000 Hearts

100,000 Hearts
By Denton A. Cooley, M.D.
Buy It Now
Cooley writes about DeBakey feud, reconciliation
By Todd Ackerman
Photo: Melissa Phillip

Dr. Denton Cooley implanted the world's first artificial heart in a patient dying on the operating table after Dr. Michael DeBakey rebuffed the inventor's research project at Baylor College of Medicine, Cooley writes in a new memoir.

In his first in-depth discussion of medicine's most famous feud, the famed cardiovascular surgeon writes that a frustrated Dr. Domingo Liotta brought him the device at the Texas Heart Institute and they redesigned it for use as an emergency bridge to transplantation - an emergency that presented itself a few months later, in 1969, when surgery to remove a large part of patient Haskell Karp's diseased heart failed.

"I'd reached a critical point in the procedure," Cooley writes in 100,000 Hearts: A Surgeon's Memoir (University of Texas Press). "Was I going to let Mr. Karp die on the operating table or try to save his life by whatever means? I decided to proceed with implanting the total artificial heart."

Cooley's account conflicts with the conventional view that he stole the device from DeBakey's Baylor laboratory in a race to be the first to implant an artificial heart.

The subsequent feud, immortalized in an iconic 1970 Life magazine cover story, endured for nearly 40 years before the two giants publicly reconciled in 2007, less than two years before DeBakey died at 99. In the book, Cooley gives the backstory about the change of heart.

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