Magdi Yacoub was born and educated in Cairo where he qualified as a doctor in 1957. After qualification he did a spell as a houseman and then as registrar. In 1962 he came over to England to take up the post of surgical officer, and then surgical registrar at the London Chest Hospital. The following year he became Senior Surgical Registrar at the National Heart Hospital and Brompton Hospital where he worked for the next five years under Lord Brock and Donald Ross. After a year in America as Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Medical School he returned to this country to take up the position of Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Harefield Hospital. Under his leadership, Harefield Hospital has become Britain’s leading transplant centre, performing over 200 heart transplants a year. He was also Consultant Cardiac Surgeon to the National Heart Hospital from 1973 to 1989 and in 1986 was appointed to be the first British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the National Heart & Lung Institute in association with the Royal Brompton Hospital. In 1995, the Institute became a Department of Imperial College School of Medicine.
Following retirement from the NHS in September 2001, Sir Magdi continues to head his research programme as Founder and Director of Research of the Harefield Research Foundation and British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery, in an academic capacity. In addition, at the beginning of 2002, Mr. Alan Milburn, MP appointed Sir Magdi as Special Envoy to the NHS in a National drive to recruit overseas qualified specialists in a new and innovative International Fellowship scheme in the specialties of cardiothoracic surgery, histopathology, imaging and psychiatry.
Professor Yacoub is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians and Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. He holds honorary degrees from Brunel University, Cardiff University, The University of Loughborough, University of Middlesex and also from the University of Lund in Sweden. He holds honorary posts in Lahore, Pakistan and University of Siena, Italy. He has received many awards and distinctions among which the Clement Prize Thomas Award of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1989. In 1999 he was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society and presented with the Lifetime Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his contribution to Medicine by the Right Hon. Frank Dobson, MP, Secretary of State for Health.