Celebrating Denton Cooley and Old Houston

How the 50th anniversary party for the Texas Heart Institute was really a glimpse into the Houston that once was.
Celebrating Cooley and Old Houston
The Texas Heart Institute celebrated its founder, Denton A. Cooley, at the 50th anniversay gala. Photograph courtesy of Texas Heart Institute. 

Every once in a while, there are moments in Houston that provide a vivid glimpse of the city that was, that aggressively entrepreneurial, insanely individualistic and relentlessly optimistic place of legend. Such a moment was visible the night of September 18th, when the Texas Heart Institute celebrated its 50th anniversary by honoring its founder, Denton A. Cooley, whose name is almost always accompanied by the modifiers “world famous heart surgeon.”

Much time has passed since Cooley performed America’s first successful heart transplant in 1968; so, too, that period in the early seventies when Tommy Thompson wrote Hearts, the bestselling book about the titanic feud between Cooley and Michael DeBakey, his fellow world renowned surgeon, a dispute that stemmed from an accusation that the former

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