Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Mr. Speaker, Dr. Michael DeBakey's life motto is ``strive for nothing less than excellence,'' and he has achieved excellence in all of his 99 years.

   He will be 100 years old next year, and he has made remarkable and valuable contributions to surgery and to the entire world in the area of heart surgery.

   When he was only 23 years old, Dr. DeBakey reported the roller pump for blood transfusions, which was later used in the heart-lung machine used in the first successful open heart surgery. When he volunteered for the Army during World War II, his experience in the Surgeon General's staff taught him that more needed to be done for veterans and for the wounded that are on the battlefield. He recommended massive changes in the management of war wounds. And as Judge Green mentioned, he invented the mobile army surgical hospital, or the MASH units, as Americans know them. We have all watched MASH on television and its satire, but MASH has served a tremendous purpose for those who are wounded on the battlefield.

   Once the MASH units came into play, Americans wounded during battle at war and were taken to these units, the survival rate increased tremendously. In previous wars when Americans were wounded, most of them died. Now, when they're wounded and taken to a MASH unit, most of them survive.

   He created the medical follow-ups for veterans. We call that the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. And in 1948, Dr. DeBakey joined the Baylor University College of Medicine staff. He launched the first surgical residency program in Houston, and now Baylor Medical School is one of the Nation's most respected health science centers in the world.

   He developed innovative treatments for aneurysms, performed the first successful coronary bypass, successfully used a partial artificial heart to help a patient wean off a heart-lung machine after open heart surgery, and he supervised the first successful multiorgan transplant.

   Dr. DeBakey could be, Mr. Speaker, the finest heart surgeon that has ever lived in the world. He deserves this Nation's greatest honor. And we're forever grateful for his contributions, his vision, his leadership and his big heart for others.

   Winston Churchill said, ``We live by what we get, but we judge our life by what we give.'' Dr. DeBakey has given hearts to thousands of people throughout the world.


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