Magdi Yacoub

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Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub
M Yacoub.JPG
Born (1935-11-16) 16 November 1935 (age 83)
Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
Nationality Egyptian/British
Education Cairo University
Known for Heart and heart-lung transplants.
Medical career
Profession Surgeon
Institutions University of Chicago
Harefield Hospital of Imperial College London
Specialism Cardiothoracic surgery;
heart transplantation
Notable prizes Order of Merit (Commonwealth realms) ribbon.png Order of Merit
Knight-Bachelor.ribbon.png Knight Bachelor
EGY Order of the Nile - Grand Officer BAR.png Order of the Nile

Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub OM FRS (Arabic: مجدى حبيب يعقوب‎‎ [ˈmæɡdi ħæˈbiːb jæʕˈʔuːb]; born 16 November 1935) is a British-Egyptian cardiothoracic surgeon. He is Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Imperial College London.[1][2][3][4]

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 (as of January, 2016).

Early life and career

The son of a surgeon of a Coptic Christian 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.[5]

The Harefield transplant programme

Under Yacoub's 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. 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.

In December 1983 Yacoub performed the UK's first heart and lung transplant at Harefield.[6]

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.

Recent work

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, 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.[7]

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.[8]

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.
  • In 1995 he founded the UK charity Chain of Hope ( This charity aims to provide children suffering from life-threatening disease with the corrective surgery and treatment to which they do not have access.
  • 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 to help children with heart problems find the right medication.[9]

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
  • 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[10]
  • 2007 Medal of Merit, President, International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences
  • 2011 Order of the Nile 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.[11]

Guinness World record

John McCafferty, an Englishman, received his new heart on 20 October 1982 in a procedure carried out by Yacoub. As of December 2013 McCafferty 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.[12]

Curriculum vitae

  • 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


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  3. Yacoub, M. (2006). "Pioneers in cardiology: Sir Magdi Yacoub". Circulation. 113 (12): f46–f47. PMID 16570370.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  5. John C. Eze, Ndubueze Ezemba ,Open-Heart Surgery in Nigeria Indications and Challenges, Tex Heart Inst J. 2007; 34(1): 8–10.
  6. "Transplant makes British medical history". On This Day. BBC News. 6 December 1983. Retrieved 19 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Revolutionary heart op for girl". Health. BBC News. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 23 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Jha, Alok (2 April 2007). "British team grows human heart valve from stem cells". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 November 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Chain of Hope
  10. From the municipality of Bergamo website
  11. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 2. 31 December 2013.
  12. Prynne, Miranda (24 December 2013). "Brit sets new record for longest surviving heart transplant patient". The Daily Telegraph. United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links