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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEWORLEANS- New Orleanians were invited to a screening of a documentary about the famous heart surgeon and inventor, Dr. Michael DeBakey Tuesday night.

It's a networking event to encourage the growth of a biomedical industry and jobs, as well as better health.

In 2000 at 92 years of age, the famed heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey talked to Tulane medical students. He was still inventing life-saving devices. For decades, presidents and world leaders sought his advice. He granted this local medical reporter a one-on-one.

I asked him what he thought about the fact that so many live a lifestyle that is very harmful to the heart. Then, when we get sick, we go to doctors such as him, to fix us.

'It's just sort of in a way disappointing that people are not learning to take care of themselves better. For example, smoking. I mean, you know, we've known that smoking was harmful for a long time' said Dr. DeBakey in October of 1992.

Now a Dallas surgeon is screening the documentary he made about Dr. DeBakey shortly before he died at 99 years old.

'I wrote him letters for three years to get him to agree to do it and finally, when we came in his office, his secretary said, 'You know, some very famous people have been turned down. I think because you're a fellow surgeon, he decided he would do it and he could trust you,'' remembers documentary filmmaker Dr. Tony Herring, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and Chief of Staff Emeritus at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas.

Students of all ages and doctors will be there to see how one man created, not only life-saving devices, but an entire biomedical industry.

'Invented devices that were made, manufactured, that needed repair, that went on to be, that had intellectual property rights, and created this whole infrastructure and whole demand for jobs and economic development in the community,' said James McNamara, President and CEO of BioDistrict New Orleans.

The event starts at 6pm and screening at 6:45pm at the Joy Theater on Canal Street. On a personal note, after that original story ran 13 years ago, my mother told me that as a little girl she remembers Dr. DeBakey giving her one of the first blood transfusions after surgery, using a devise he invented. Dr. Herring explained that it was a hand crank with the blood going directly from one person to the next.

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