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A memoir with heart

Take a look at the life of world-renowned heart surgeon and alumnus Denton Cooley through photographs from his new memoir “100,000 Hearts.”

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Pioneering surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley performed his first human heart transplant in 1968 and astounded the world in 1969 when he was the first surgeon to successfully implant a totally artificial heart in a human being.

In his new memoir, “100,000 Hearts,” Cooley (BA, 1941) shares his life story and his transformation from a shy boy to one of the world’s most important surgeons. The photographs in the slideshow above appear in his memoir.

In “100,000 Hearts,” Cooley recounts his childhood in Houston and his experiences as a basketball scholarship recipient at The University of Texas of Austin. After medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and at Johns Hopkins, Cooley served in the Army Medical Corps. While at Johns Hopkins, Cooley assisted in a groundbreaking operation to correct an infant’s congenital heart defect, which inspired him to specialize in heart surgery. Over the course of his career, Cooley and his associates have performed more than 100,000 open heart operations and have been forerunners in implementing new surgical procedures.

Of all his achievements, however, Cooley is most proud of the Texas Heart Institute, which he founded in 1962, in Houston, with a mission to use education, research and improved patient care to decrease the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease.

Cooley notes the importance of his time at the university in his memoir: “The four years that I spent at UT gave me the knowledge and skills I would need for both medical school and life. Because of what my alma mater gave me, I have always tried to support it in every possible way.”

It’s particularly fitting that this book has strong ties to the university. The memoir is published by the university’s Briscoe Center for American History and is distributed by the University of Texas Press. Don Carleton, the Briscoe Center’s executive director, worked closely with Dr. Cooley in shaping the contents of the memoir.

As Tom Brokaw said, “Dr. Cooley has always played at the top of his game, whether as a basketball star at the University of Texas or as a world-class heart surgeon. How he accomplished all that is a must read.”