In Memoriam: Dr. Starzl, first successful pediatric liver transplant surgery, and
TrishaKorioth, Staff Writer
Thomas E. Starzl, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP (Hon.), who performed the first human liver transplant and first successful pediatric liver
transplant, died in his sleep March 4. He was 90.
Board-certified in general surgery and thoracic surgery, Dr. Starzl received the William
E. Ladd Medal, the AAP Section on Surgery’s highest honor, in 1993.
Reflecting on the honor in a 2007 AAP Oral History, he said that among his more than
200 awards and honors, the Ladd Medal was one of his most cherished. “The children
have been so important in the whole story, all the time, from the beginning to the
Dr. Starzl studied at Northwestern University, earned his doctorate in neurophysiology
and medical degree at Johns Hopkins. He dedicated his research to understanding immunosuppression
and solving how to prevent organ rejection. He joined the University of Colorado as
associate professor, then professor and chair of surgery. There, he conducted the
first and first successful human liver transplants in 1963 and 1967.
Seeing potential to expand his focus in liver transplantation research, Dr. Starzl
moved to University of Pittsburgh in 1981. Soon after, the first liver transplant
program in the nation was launched. In 1996, the University of Pittsburgh created
the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, and he served as director.
The institute later researched the feasibility of xenotransplantation as a solution
to organ shortage. His research also contributed to the understanding of renal failure
and short-gut syndrome.
Dr. Starzl was founding president of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons and
Transplant Recipients International Organization and an elected member of the National
Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Starzl is survived by his wife, Joy, one son and one grandchild. He is preceded
in death by one daughter and one son.
Other recent deaths
Agnes B. Cabatu, M.D., FAAP, of Visalia, Calif., died Feb. 4 at age 48.
Gene Caldwell, M.D., FAAP, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., died of congestive heart failure March 4 at age 84.
Cynthia L. Ferrell, M.D., M.S.Ed., FAAP, of Portland, Ore., died Feb. 24 of complications from synovial cell sarcoma at age
Richard C. Mitchell, M.D., FAAP, of Iowa City, Iowa, died Dec. 11 at age 93.
Margaret Q. Prevette, M.D., FAAP, of Twinsburg, Ohio, died suddenly on Feb. 18 at age 45.
Lynne M. Schoonover, M.D., FAAP, of Falls Church, Va., died Feb. 20 at age 66.
Jay Veltman, M.D., FAAP, of Holland, Mich., died March 16 at age 87.
Edward R. Westmark, M.D., FAAP, of Pensacola, Fla., died March 5 at age 87.