Mourners pay tribute to famed Houston heart surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley

HOUSTON — President George H.W. Bush, Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and several other dignitaries were among the hundreds in attendance Monday at the funeral of renowned heart surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley.

Cooley passed away Nov. 18 at age 96.  Cooley was a pioneer in cardiovascular surgery, performing the first successful human heart transplant in the U.S. back in 1968. The following year brought another breakthrough afer he became the first doctor to implant an artificial heart into a human.

"This is definitely the epicenter of cardiovascular surgery in the world, and he pioneered all of these techniques, that are practiced by heart surgeons all over the world," Ellen Vestewig said.

Cooley founded the Texas Heart Institute and served as the first chief of cardiovascular surgery at Texas Children's Hospital. He took part in an estimated 120,000 surgeries throughout the course of his career.