Throwback Thursday: Matters of the heart

February not only marks American Heart Month, but also Valentine’s Day. As we celebrate both, this Throwback Thursday looks back on a variation of the heart theme: Dr. Michael E. DeBakey’s 1966 heart surgery.

Image courtesy of the Baylor College of Medicine Archives.
Image courtesy of the Baylor College of Medicine Archives.

In this photo, courtesy of the Baylor College of Medicine Archives, DeBakey grasps the hand of Esperanza Del Valle Vasquez.

Aug. 8, 1966 marked a major milestone in heart surgery. After a four-hour surgery, Dr. DeBakey discovered he could not restart the Mexico City native’s heart. Instead, he implanted an external heart pump called a left ventricular assist device, which kept her alive for 10 days while her own heart healed. It was the first successful use of the pump.

The surgery was also milestone for Ms. Vasquez, as she became the first person to survive artificial heart pump surgery.

Additional Resources

See historical archival footage of the press conference following the surgery courtesy of the Texas Archive.

Learn more about Dr. DeBakey’s legacy.

Read more about Dr. DeBakey on Momentum.

-By Audrey M. Marks

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