FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 2, 2007
CONTACT: Geoff Embler or Matt Mackowiak
Sen. Hutchison’s Bill to Award Dr. DeBakey the Congressional Gold Medal Passes Congress
Hutchison’s Bill will Award Highest Congressional Civilian Honor to Dr. DeBakey
WASHINGTON -- Today Congress passed S. 474, legislation authored by U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R–TX) to award Congress’s highest and most distinguished civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to Dr. Michael DeBakey. DeBakey, 99, is Chancellor Emeritus of the Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the DeBakey Heart Center at Baylor. Sen. Hutchison introduced the bill in recognition of Dr. DeBakey’s many outstanding achievements and pioneering efforts in cardiac and vascular health.
“Dr. DeBakey’s medical advances have contributed so much to our country and the world,” Sen. Hutchison said. “Not only did he perfect the heart transplant procedure which has saved so many lives, but he also invented the M.A.S.H. unit. As a veteran of World War II, he saw our young men dying on the battlefield and was determined to improve medical care to save lives. Dr. DeBakey will receive the Congressional Gold Medal for these lasting contributions. It is a high honor, and one that is certainly well-deserved.
“I want to thank Congressmen Al Green, Gene Green, Michael Burgess, John Culberson, and Ted Poe for shepherding this bill through the House,” said Sen. Hutchison.
Once Sen. Hutchison's bill is signed into law by the President, the U.S. Mint will work with Dr. DeBakey and his family on the conceptual design. Once produced, duplicate medals will be available for purchase.
Dr. DeBakey’s innovative research and surgical techniques revolutionized the field of cardiovascular medicine. He is recognized internationally for inventing and refining several medical devices and procedures used daily to save lives. Two of his most significant inventions include the roller pump—an essential component of the heart-lung machine—and the DeBakey Ventricular Assist Device (VAD)—an apparatus implanted into the heart to increase blood flow.
Dr. DeBakey helped develop the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) units that saved thousands of lives during the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and helped establish the Veterans Affairs Medical Center System. Dr. DeBakey has served as an advisor to almost every president of the past fifty years, and he has received numerous awards from educational institutions, civic organizations and governments worldwide, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction in 1969, and the National Medal of Science in 1987.
Sen. Hutchison’s legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Dr. DeBakey was first introduced in 2004, again in 2005 and once more on February 1, 2007. The Senate passed this legislation on March 27. The approval today of that legislation by the House of Representatives was the final step in Congress required for the award to be approved.
Sen. Hutchison introduced legislation in 2003 to rename the Houston VA medical center after Dr. DeBakey. That bill became law on December 6, 2003.
AUDIO: 10.02.07 Sen. Hutchison’s Bill to Award Dr. DeBakeythe Congressional Gold Medal Passes Congress