In honour of Black History Month we will be recognising notable contributions to the STEMs from people of African origin. Today we recognise Sir Magdi Yacoub.
Born (1935) in Egypt, Sir Yacoub is a Professor of Cardiothoraic surgery best known for his ground breaking surgical procedures and expertise. He completed his Medical degree in Egypt and decided to specialise in heart surgery after an aunt died of heart disease at a young age. He later moved to the UK and has worked at the University of Chicago, Imperial College and the National Heart and Lung Institute. He is credited with establishing heart transplantation in the UK and developing an intricate pulmonary graft method known as the Ross Procedure. During his time at Harefield hospital, he performed the UK’s first heart and lung transplant helping to make it the leading transplant centre in the UK.
Through out his career, Sir Yacoub has established the Heart Science Centre and Magdi Yacoub Institute for research into the causes and treatment of cardiac disease. As a visiting professor to the University of Nigeria, he led a team of local surgeons to perform the first open heart surgery in Nigeria. He has won multiple awards including the Lifetime outstanding achievement award in recognition of contribution to medicine, Secretary of State for Health (UK) and WHO prize for Humanitarian Services. in 1992, Sir Yacoub was Knighted and awarded the Order of Merit by the Queen in 2014.
Although retired, he continues to make significant contributions. In April 2007, it was reported that a British medical research team led by Yacoub had become the first to grow part of a human heart valve from stem cells. He continues to support his Aswan Heart Center located in Egypt to help children with heart related condition and to operate on children through his charity, The Chain of Hope.