Denton Arthur Cooley (born August 22, 1920) is an American heart surgeon famous for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. Cooley is also founder and surgeon in-chief of the Texas Heart Institute, chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, consultant in Cardiovascular Surgery at Texas Children's Hospital, and a clinical professor of Surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Cooley graduated in 1941 from the University of Texas, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, played on the basketball team, and majored in Zoology. He became interested in surgery through several premed classes he attended in college and began his medical education at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. He completed his medical degree and his surgical training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he also completed his internship. At Johns Hopkins, he worked with Dr. Alfred Blalock and assisted in the first "Blue Baby" procedure to correct an infant's congenital heart defect.
In 1946 Cooley was called to active duty with the Army Medical Corps. There, he served as chief of surgical services at the station hospital in Linz, Austria and was discharged in 1948 with the rank of captain. He then returned to complete his residency at Johns Hopkins and remain as an instructor in surgery. In 1950 he went to London to work with Lord Russell Brock.