In Memoriam: Denton A. Cooley, MD

Each [soul] is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass
A book of rules;
And each must make
Ere life has flown
A stumbling block
Or a stepping stone.

“A Bag of Tools”
R. L. Sharpe
Dr. Denton A. Cooley, the great cardiovascular surgeon and founder of the Texas Heart Institute, died this morning at age 96. He pioneered many of the cardiovascular operations that are now considered routine, including heart transplantation. He also was the first surgeon to implant a total artificial heart in a human being. During my career as a medical writer at the Texas Heart Institute, I had the privilege of helping to edit many of his scientific papers, as well as his memoir. He will always be very dear to me. This photo of me with Dr. Cooley was taken by friends during my retirement ceremony in June 2016. The accompanying quote is from one of his favorite poems. Dr. Cooley created an unparalleled series of “stepping stones,” which will never be forgotten.