Surgical Associates of Texas, P.A. - Our Surgeons: Denton A. Cooley, M.D.

Denton A. Cooley, MD, founder and president emeritus of the Texas Heart Institute, is a world-renowned surgeon, having pioneered many techniques used in cardiovascular surgery today.

A native of Houston, Texas, Dr. Cooley graduated with the highest honors from the University of Texas and earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University of Medicine in 1944. Upon completion of his medical degree, Dr. Cooley was involved in breakthroughs that established the groundwork for incredible advances in cardiovascular surgery and treatments. In 1944, as an intern under Dr. Alfred Blalock, Dr. Cooley assisted in the first "blue-baby" operation, which has been referred to as "the dawn of the modern era in heart surgery." Soon after that historic experience, he spent a year with Lord Russell Brock in London where he participated in the first intracardiac operations in England.

In 1951, Dr. Cooley accepted a position as a full-time faculty member of Baylor College of Medicine, where he served for 18 years. In 1962, he founded the Texas Heart Institute at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital (now CHI St. Luke's Health - Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center).

In addition to the first successful human heart transplant in the United States (1968) and the first implantation of a total artificial heart in a human (1969), Dr. Cooley and his associates have performed more than 115,000 open-heart surgeries-more than any other facility in the world. During this time, he has pioneered many surgical techniques including for coronary bypasses and the repair of aortic aneurysms, and has contributed to the development of methods to repair and replace diseased heart valves. He is also widely known for operations to correct congenital heart anomalies in infants and children.

Dr. Cooley is a 1998 recipient of the nation's highest honor for technological innovation, the National Medal of Technology, presented by President Clinton. Some of his additional honors and awards include the nations highest civilian honor, the National Medal of Freedom, presented by President Reagan in 1984, and the Rene Leriche Prize, the highest honor of the International Surgical Society. He has been named Distinguished Alumnus at both the University of Texas and the Johns Hopkins University; Honorary Fellow in four Royal Colleges of Surgery; and has received decorations from 12 foreign countries. He is also the author or co-author of more than 1,200 scientific articles and several books, including his memoir 100,000 Hearts. Learn more about Dr. Cooley on the Texas Heart Institute website.


Denton A. Cooley, MD, founder, president and surgeon-in-chief of the Texas Heart Institute.

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