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Logo of thijTexas Heart Institute JournalSee also Cardiovascular Diseases Journal in PMCSubscribeSubmissionsTHI Journal Website
Tex Heart Inst J. 2017 February; 44(1): 3–6.
Published online 2017 February 1. doi:  10.14503/THIJ-17-6232
PMCID: PMC5317357

Fare Thee Well, Dr. Cooley

Herbert L. Fred, MD, MACP
Associate Editor

When the righteous die, even the Heavens cry.

— Yiddish expression

The death of Dr. Denton A. Cooley generated a wealth of gratitude from his patients and an outpouring of admiration from his colleagues around the world. One tribute, in particular, caught the attention of our staff—from a man in Mexico, born in 1958 with total anomalous venous return. When he was 14 months old, his defect was surgically corrected by Dr. Cooley at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.1 A review of Dr. Cooley's personal handwritten log of operations yielded the patient's name and the date of the procedure—“3-3-60” (Fig. 1). Amazingly, it was already the 13th such repair so early in Dr. Cooley's career.

Fig. 1.
Dr. Denton Cooley's handwritten logbook shows the date of a surgical procedure performed on a 14-month-old boy.

Even considering Dr. Cooley's worldwide tributes, his informative autobiography,2 and his detailed obituary,3 no words can convey the scope of his contributions to humankind. Accordingly, we present here a list of his personal contributions to cardiovascular surgery (Table I)4 and a comprehensive summary of his surgical inventions and product innovations (Table II).4 Both compilations speak for themselves. All we need add is, “Thank you, Dr. Cooley. May you create your wonders in heaven.”

Denton A. Cooley's Personal Contributions to Cardiovascular Surgery4
Denton A. Cooley's Surgical Inventions and Products4


1. Cooley DA, Cabello OV, Monraz Preciado F. Repair of total anomalous pulmonary venous return: results after 47 years. Tex Heart Inst J 2008; 35( 4): 451– 3. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Cooley DA. 100,000 hearts: a surgeon's memoir. Austin (TX): University of Texas Press; 2012.
3. Life tributes: Denton Arthur Cooley, M.D. Houston Chronicle 2016. November 27; 116( 45): F5.
4. Cooley DA. 100,000 hearts: a surgeon's memoir. Austin (TX): University of Texas Press; 2012: p 225– 30.

Articles from Texas Heart Institute Journal are provided here courtesy of Texas Heart Institute