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The International Brotherhood of Magicians

19 Nov

Blaneys Have Special Relationship With Famous Doctor

Category: News   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK


Dr. Denton Cooley died today, November 18, at age 96.
Dr.Cooley was the doctor who saved daughter Becky Blaney's life when she was a teenager. Her heart essentially "came apart", and her mother Joyce and I rushed her to St. Luke's Hospital in the Houston Medical Center.  Two good surgeons explained what was happening and said it was usually a four hour procedure, and often a patient can't stay alive that long.
At just that very moment one doctor looked up and saw Dr. Cooley walking by, He stopped Dr. Cooley and asked him to look at Becky and see what he thought was best for her. Dr.Cooley asked whose daughter it was, and was told it was Becky Blaney, daughter of  Walter Blaney.   He asked if they meant "Zaney Blaney", the magician? They said they didn't know me but he's right here with her in the emergency room.  Dr. Cooley walked over and said "Hi Walter, let me have a look at Becky."
Dr.Cooley was sought after as an after dinner speaker at many major banquets in Houston, and was promoting his new Texas Heart Institute. Often I would be the after dinner entertainment program, appearing right in front of the head table.  I guess we appeared together at over two dozen banquets, often in the big Emerald Room of the Shamrock Hotel on Main St. He loved my act, and somehow always laughed at my jokes.  We had become good friends. 
Then Dr. Cooley  quickly explained how precarious the long operation was that Becky needed, but said he had performed it quite often and had gotten pretty good at doing it more quickly, and asked if I would okay it. I asked how soon it could be done,  and he said "right now".  In forty five minutes it was all done. The other surgeons who watched were just amazed at how good and fast Dr. Cooley worked, almost as if God had performed the feat they said. He came into Becky's recovery room a bit later and held her hand as he we looked at half a dozen tubes running In and out of parts of Becky's body.   He told her she was going to be all right, and suspected she would be a bit uncomfortable, and that it will "smart a bit" for a few hours.  This made Becky smile.  Dr. Cooley turned to me and said she was going to be just fine. What a lucky break. Dr. Cooley had just returned from surgery in Peru, and happened to walk through that particular waiting room at just the moment we were there.
A few years later his Texas Heart Institute had become a major success in medical history.  Dr. Cooley planned a Caribbean Cruise  for all his doctors and asked me to come along as the entertainer.  I guess I vanished my birdcage a couple hundred times  over three days, and then did my act at the closing banquet aboard ... with Dr. Cooley and his wife front and center.  After I finished my act I made a short speech, saying one would think I would be the top magician in my own family, but there is another magician who is tops with us, and he's here tonight.  I told of Becky's surgery in a few sentences, and then asked Dr. Cooley to please stand up and take the final bow.  The crowd of doctors and their wives all rose and gave Dr. Cooley a standing ovation.  That was a pretty wonderful memory in any magician's career.
Yes, Dr. Cooley's death brought back many good memories .  He really did always love my act, and told me he never tired of seeing it again and again.  He liked it when I'd turn my head back towards him at the head table behind me and say,  "Dr. Cooley, I hope you'll pardon my back."  Then I'd face my audience again and say, "And I hope you'll pardon my front."  And everyone could hear Dr. Cooley laugh.
He also loved my Heart Transplant Puzzle I marketed . There was a sticker on the base that said, "Take out the heart, then put it back in, five hours you lose, five minutes you win."  He ordered a dozen and sent them all over the world to the top heart transplant doctors, including Dr. Christiaan Barnard  in South Africa.  
Walter Zaney Blaney
Read the obituary below, and you will see what kind of magic Dr. Denton Cooley performed throughout his life,   Aloha to my longtime great friend Dr.Denton Cooley.      

100 Years (1914-2014) - Accepted into the National Register of Historic Places
from Allen Grant
Sadly, I have to report to you that our famous alumnus from the class of 1937, Dr. Denton Arthur Cooley, passed away today, November 18, 2016, at the age of 96.  Below is a  part of an online article from the Houston Chronicle.   
"Dr. Denton Arthur Cooley, legendary founder of the Texas Heart Institute and arguably the most gifted heart surgeon of his time, has died. He was 96.

Over four decades, Cooley performed an estimated 65,000 open-heart surgeries at the institute, drawing patients from around the globe. At one time, his team was handling a tenth of all such operations in the United States.

Cooley's surgeries included two particularly noteworthy ones - in 1968, the first transplant of a human heart in which the patient lived more than a few weeks; and in 1969, the first implantation of a mechanical heart.
"At the height of his career, he was probably the best known heart surgeon in the world," said Dr. David Cooper, a professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and author of "Open Heart: The Radical Surgeons who Revolutionized Medicine."

Cooley stood above other surgeons because of his speed and technical prowess, a combination once described as "Woolworth volume and Tiffany quality."

At the beginning of his career, the device that keeps patients alive during cardiac surgery - the heart-lung machine - was still in its infancy, a crude instrument that gave surgeons little time to complete an operation. Cooley performed with such precision that he demonstrated procedures such as bypasses could be safely done. He was among a small group of doctors who ushered heart surgery from a niche field into mainstream medicine.

"I was talking to a pilot friend of mine one time - he flew 747s - about Charles Lindbergh," said O.H. "Bud" Frazier, another pioneer of heart surgery at the Texas Heart Institute. "My friend said there's not a pilot alive today that could fly the Spirit of St. Louis by dead reckoning. Dr. Cooley is sort of the same way. There's not a surgeon alive today that could do what he could do."

Cooley was a native Houstonian, who would witness the city's transformation from a provincial afterthought, known for its proximity to oil fields and refineries, to a metropolis famous not only as a world energy center but as a destination for cutting-edge medicine.
He was born on Aug. 12, 1920, to Ralph Clarkson Cooley and Mary Fraley Cooley, whose families were long established in Houston. A grandfather had helped found the Houston Heights neighborhood in 1890, and his father was a prominent dentist. The physician who delivered Cooley was Dr. Ernst William Bertner, who would later found the Texas Medical Center.

After graduating from San Jacinto High School, Cooley attended the University of Texas on a basketball scholarship. There, he was a three-year letterman and part of a team that won the Southwest Conference in 1939. Even late in life, he fondly recalled his playing days at Texas, and in 2003, the university opened the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion next to its basketball arena, a place for the men's and women's teams to practice.

Rick Barnes, the Texas basketball coach at the time, once invited Cooley to speak with his players. What stood out to Barnes was Cooley's humor and the stunning trajectory of his life. 
"There have been basketball players that have come through UT that have done more for the sport," Barnes said. "But when you look at his contributions to society, it's really quite astonishing."

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