And how. Dr. Michael DeBakey, pioneering heart surgeon, dies at 99 - International Herald Tribune Dr. Michael DeBakey, whose innovative heart and blood vessel operations made him one of the most influential doctors in America, died Friday night in Houston, where he lived. He was 99. His death, at the Methodist Hospital, was of natural causes, according to a statement released by the hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, where DeBakey was chancellor emeritus. "Many consider Michael E. DeBakey to be the greatest surgeon ever," the Journal of the American Medical Association said in 2005. DeBakey's pioneering surgical procedures in bypassing blocked arteries in the neck, legs and heart have been performed on millions of patients around the world. By the time he stopped a regular surgical schedule, when he was in his 80s, he had performed more than 60,000 operations.