The second half of the 20th century endorsed the emergence and the triumph of cardiac surgery. One of the legends of the period is Sir Magdi H. Yacoub (1935–), pioneer surgeon, scientist, master craftsman, and philanthropist. Dr. Yacoub one of the world’s most prominent and renowned heart surgeons!
Dr. Yacoub graduated from Cairo University’s medical school in 1957 after that, he moved to the United Kingdom. There, he transformed the field of heart transplants and surgery, working at the National Heart Hospital-Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital, where he performed the first heart-lung transplant in 1980 in the United Kingdom.
At Harefield, his team performed more than 1,000 surgeries, Under his leadership, Harefield became the UK’s leading heart transplant center. As founder and director of research at the Harefield Heart Science Centre (Magdi Yacoub Institute), Yacoub oversees over 60 scientists and students in the areas of tissue engineering, myocardial regeneration, stem cell biology, end-stage heart failure, and transplant immunology.
Although he was absolutely calm in the operating room, he could not tolerate the slightest noise because, as he said, it stopped him “from thinking.” For him, surgery was not a simple mechanical process. His brain worked continuously, sifting through details and predicting the possible outcome. It was not unusual for him to finish the operation before completing all of the objectives we had set out. He would say: “This patient won’t tolerate anymore. It’s better for him to come out alive and never mind if the operation wasn’t so perfect”—something that my perfectionist American teachers would not have espoused. Results proved him right.
Yacoub was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1992 for his services in medicine and surgery. Throughout his career, which included working at the National Heart and Chest Hospitals at the University of Chicago, Yacoub conducted extensive research to “perfect what [they] were doing, to evaluate new forms of treatment and to study and improve surgical techniques.”
Though he mostly resides in the United Kingdom, Yacoub’s contributions to Egypt have been evident and celebrated in recent years. He has been a pillar in helping thousands of Egyptians get treated from cardiac diseases, after the founding of the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation, which is the legal arm of the Aswan Heart Centre, a charitable tertiary cardiac center in Upper Egypt serving Egyptian underprivileged pediatric and adult patients, both in treatment and in research. In 2015, The Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation collaborated with AUC to develop programs that aim to advance technologies supporting cardiac procedures and heart surgeries in Egypt.