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There was a very rare ceremony Thursday at the University of Minnesota. President Robert Bruininks bestowed an honorary 'Doctor of Medicine' title on a man who is not a physician.
It is believed to be the first time such a high honor has been given by a major university in 45 years.
But Earl Bakken, inventor of the wearable pacemaker and co-founder of Medtronic, has changed the shape of medicine more than once in his life. By inventing the implantable medical device industry, he has aided millions of doctors and their patients in the business of healing.
From the company's beginning in a northeast Minneapolis garage, Bakken grew Medtronic into a business of more than 35,000 employees.
Bakken, 83, lives in Hawaii nowadays, but he returns to Medtronic's offices in Mounds View regularly to address new employees. He talks proudly about the pacemaker now implanted in his own chest, as well as the stent and insulin pump that are in there as well.
When MPR's Tom Crann sat down with Earl Bakken on Wednesday, Bakken was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and he brought to the table a leather doctor's satchel full of pacemakers old and new.