On Friday night, one of my personal heroes died.
He lies in repose today in Houston's City Hall, the first man to hold such an honor in the city he helped define.
His legacy lives on in a million different ways. He invented the roller pump critical to heart-lung machines -- making open heart surgery a possibility -- while he was still a medical student. He helped establish the MASH unit and the VA hospital system. He used his wife's sewing machine to make a Dacron graft, which is now widely used to repair blood vessels. He developed artificial hearts and numerous heart assist devices, including the current pump which can be implanted into a small child. He pioneered the surgical procedure on aortic aneurysms, which later saved his own life at the ripe young age of 97. He helped build a world-class medical center with world-class surgeons, and trained many new generations to continue his work. He personally touched lives, having performed more than 60,000 operations in his lifetime.
Although there is no photographic evidence, I feel honored to have met the man and shaken his hand. But even more importantly, I feel even more honored to have worked with and worked on his inventions.
And still, his legacy lives on, as I am forever influenced by this great man to find ways to improve on his works.