Heart Surgeon DeBakey Receives Congressional Gold Medal

Famed heart surgeon Michael DeBakey can add Congressional Gold Medal to his long list of honors.

President Bush presented DeBakey with the medal during a ceremony Wednesday in the Capitol Rotunda.

The Houston surgeon pioneered such procedures as heart bypass and has invented medical devices to help heart patients. He's also recognized for developing the idea of battlefield mobile surgical hospitals known as MASH units.

Bush said the award put DeBakey in the company of inventor Thomas Edison, Army physician Walter Reed, who confirmed yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes, and Jonas Salk, who developed the polio vaccine. The president noted that he was awarding DeBakey the honor four decades after another president from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson awarded DeBakey the Congressional Medal of Freedom.

"His legacy is the unlost hours with family and friends who are still with us because of his healing touch. His legacy is grandparents who lived to see their grandchildren," Bush said of the 99-year-old DeBakey who sat in a wheelchair onstage. "His legacy is holding the fragile and sacred gift of human life in his hands and returning it unbroken."