What’s the best way to be memorialized in the Internet age? A Wikipedia page all your own perhaps? The verified blue check mark on your Twitter handle? Maybe seeing your Instagram follower count roll from the “mil” to the “mill” – with two Ls? My personal favorite – or should I say my unreachable life-goal – is to someday occupy for just 24 hours the majestic throne that is the Google doodle.
Today, July 12th, on the 96th anniversary of his birth, that throne belongs to famed Argentine surgeon, Dr. René G. Favaloro. Known for his invention of the heart bypass surgery, Favaloro’s groundbreaking work touched millions of lives and changed the landscape of cardiovascular medicine. Previously, Google honored Dr. Favaloro by listing him in their project Once Upon a Try, which identified the 400 inventions that most “changed the course of humanity.”
Favaloro first considered the possibility of using the saphenous vein in coronary surgery in 1967. His idea was to “bypass” – hence the now-renowned name – the obstructed section of a coronary artery, thus delivering blood flow distally. Today, the bypass procedure is used in about 30 percent of cardiac surgeries, and researchers estimate that more than 800,000 of the procedures are performed world-wide each year.
More than an inventor, Favaloro was also an educator and an activist. In 1975, he established the Favaloro Foundation, which is one of the largest cardiological institutions in the Americas to this day, combining medical research, practice, and education. He also opened the Favaloro Foundation Institute of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery, a non-profit organization that offered specialized services of cardiology with a firm inclusion of the less privileged. Many have said that Favaloro himself made a point to operate on indigent patients on a daily basis.
Toward the end of his life, the Favaloro Foundation faced difficulties, having racked up more than US $18 million in debt as Argentina’s economic crisis of the late 90s reached its peak. After multiple unsuccessful appeals for aid to the Argentine government, Favaloro, aged 77 at the time, took his own life on July 29, 2000.
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Google has named the heart bypass surgery technique, pioneered by Argentine doctor René Favaloro (1923-2000), as one of humanity’s greatest inventions. It is currently the only Latin American innovation featured on Google’s “Once Upon a Try” platform. -⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “Every doctor and, in this case, I would say: every scientist, should dedicate their life to the service of humankind.”
The Google doodle features a heart in place of one of the “Os” and a drawing of Favaloro clad in a surgical mask and robe in place of the other. Their purpose, writ large, is to bring a curious fact into the daily lives of the billions of people who log on to the search engine’s website each day. Today, that procrastination-induced click on the doodle, will bring users closer to the man whose discovery may very well one day save their lives.