Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub, OM, FRS (Arabic: مجدى حبيب يعقوب ) born 16 November 1935) is an Egyptian-born British cardiothoracic surgeon. He is Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Imperial College London.
Yacoub’s major achievements may be summarised:
• establishing heart transplantation in UK and becoming the world’s leading transplant surgeon
• establishing and becoming a master of the “Ross Procedure” or pulmonary autograft, including a randomised control trial
• pioneering the modern arterial switch operation
• promoting the use of left ventricular assist devices for the ‘Bridge to Recovery’ and establishing the largest experience in the world
• establishing the Heart Science Centre, Magdi Yacoub Institute for research into the causes and treatment of cardiac disease
• establishing the Chain of Hope Charity which provides cardiothoracic surgical care to the developing world
• championing academic medicine, humanitarian surgery and becoming an example of a minority surgeon who has flourished in an institution-dominated field.
He was involved in the restart of British heart transplantion in 1980 (there had been a moratorium following the series of three performed by Donald Ross in 1968), carried out the first British live lobe lung transplant and went on to perform more transplants than any other surgeon in the world. A 1980 patient, Derrick Morris, was Europe’s longest surviving heart transplant recipient until his death in July 2005. A March 1978 heart by-pass patient continues to live a very active and fruitful life.
Early life and career
The son of a surgeon of a Coptic family, Yacoub was born on 16 November 1935 in Belbis, Ashraqya, Egypt. He studied at Cairo University and qualified as a doctor in 1957. He reportedly said he decided to specialise in heart surgery after an aunt died of heart disease in her early 20s. He moved to Britain in 1962, then taught at the University of Chicago. He became a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Harefield Hospital in 1973. As a visiting professor to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Yacoub,Fabian Udekwu and others performed the first open heart surgery in Nigeria in 1974.
The Harefield transplant programme
Under his leadership, the Harefield Hospital transplant programme began in 1980 and by the end of the decade he and his team had performed 1000 of the procedures and Harefield Hospital had become the leading UK transplant centre. During this period there was an increase in post-operative survival rates, a reduction in the recovery periods spent in isolation and in the financial cost of each procedure.
In order to remove donor hearts, he would travel thousands of miles each year in small aircraft or helicopters. Most of his patients received treatment under the National Health Service, but some private foreign patients were also treated.
He was appointed professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute in 1986, and was involved in the development of the techniques of heart and heart-lung transplantation
Although he rarely appeared in the media spotlight, his association with Princess Diana only served to increase his fame.
The princess was pictured wearing surgical mask and gown as she observed one of his operations on a young child.
Having retired from performing surgery for the National Health Service in 2001 at the age of 65, Yacoub continues to act as a high-profile consultant and ambassador for the benefits of transplant surgery. He continues to operate on children through his charity, The Chain of Hope.
In 2006 he briefly came out of retirement to advise on a complicated procedure which required removing a transplant heart from a patient whose own heart had recovered. The patient’s original heart had not been removed during transplant surgery nearly a decade earlier in the hope it might recover.
In April 2007, it was reported that a British medical research team led by Yacoub had grown part of a human heart valve, from stem cells, a first.
Other activities and achievements
• He is also notable for saving many lives by pioneering a technique for ‘switching’ the heart vessels of babies born with transposition of the great arteries, a congenital heart defect in which the two major vessels carrying blood out of the heart, the aorta and the pulmonary artery, are switched.
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York & Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub
• In 1995 he founded the UK charity Chain of Hope (www.chainofhope.org). This charity aims to provide children suffering from life-threatening disease with the corrective surgery and treatment to which they do not have access.
Princess Diana with writer Jeffrey Archer, actor Omar Sharif and doctor Magdi Yacoub attending a charity dinner for the Harefield Heart Unit at Harrods, London, February 1996
• Among celebrities whose lives he extended was the comedian Eric Morecambe. He was also known to have treated the famous Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, urging the latter to give up the cigarettes that had led to his heart attack.
• In 2002 he was selected to spearhead a government recruitment drive for overseas doctors.
• He has had a house named after him at The Petchey Academy which opened in September 2006.
• He is one of few masters and teachers in the world of the highly technically demanding “Ross Procedure”.
• He established the Aswan Heart Center in April 2009 which is located in Upper Egypt in order to help children with heart problems find the right medication.
Honours and awards
• 1988 Bradshaw Lecture, Royal College of Physicians
• 1998 Texas Heart Institute Ray C. Fish Award for Scientific Achievement in Cardiovascular Disease
• 1999 Lifetime outstanding achievement award in recognition of contribution to medicine, Secretary of State for Health (UK)
• 2001 The Cleveland Clinic Foundation Heart Failure Summit : Kaufman Awardee
• 2003 Golden Hippocrates International Award for Excellence in Cardiac Surgery (Moscow)
• WHO Prize for Humanitarian Services
• 2004 International Society for Heart & Lung Transplantation Lifetime Achievement Award
PRESIDENT Hosni Mubarak awarded prominent cardiac surgeon Magdi Yacoub the Grand Order of the Nile, the highest award in Egypt.
• 2006 European Society of Cardiology Gold Medal
• 2007 Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Lifetime Achievement Award
• 2007 Honorary citizenships of the city of Bergamo, Italy
• 2007 Medal of Merit, President, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences
• 2011 Grand Nile Collar for science and humanity
• 2012 American College of Cardiology Legend of Cardiovascular Medicine
Yacoub was knighted in 1992 and awarded the Order of Merit by HM The Queen in the 2014 New Year Honours.
Guinness World Record
John McCafferty, an Englishman, received his new heart on 20 October 1982 in a procedure carried out by Yacoub. McCafferty has entered the record books as the world’s longest-surviving heart transplant patient, surpassing the previous Guinness World Record of 30 years, 11 months and 10 days set by an American man who died in 2009
• 1957 Medical Bachelor, Cairo (Egypt)
• 1964-1968 Rotating Senior Surgical Registrar, National Heart and Chest Hospitals, London
• 1969 Instructor and Assistant Professor, University of Chicago (USA)
• 1973-2001 Consultant Cardiac Surgeon, National Heart Hospital-Royal Brompton and Harefield National Health Service (NHS) Trust, London
• 1986-2006 British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery
• 1986–present Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College Faculty of Medicine
• 2001–present Founder and Director of Research of the Magdi Yacoub Research Institute, Harefield
• 2008–present Founder and Chair of Magdi Yacoub Research Network, London
• 2009 Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation, Cairo Egypt Free Heart Surgeries
• Establishing an international medical centre of excellence offering state-of the art free basic health services to the less privileged across the whole region at the highest international standards.
• Foundation Overview
• Founded and led by the internationally renowned heart transplant surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, The Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation is an Egyptian NGO embarking on a truly exceptional project of enormous significance to the health and wellbeing of the people of Egypt and throughout the whole region.
Our core objective is to establish—along the banks of the river Nile in Aswan—a medical centre of excellence and international standing dedicated to cardiovascular surgery, treatment and research. The Aswan Heart Centre provides
• hope, improves life chances, and serves the children, young people and adults of Egypt and the region.
The Aswan Heart Centre’s commitment to research will result in the transfer of knowledge, skills and experience across the region and beyond, creating a biomedical knowledge base, which can be exported to the world at large.
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