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Dr. Thomas Starzl: The Father of Liver Transplantation

IMG_8742If you’ve read my April newsletter, you’ve learned a little about one of my saviors, Dr. Thomas E. Starzl.

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl was the first to perform a liver transplant. He devoted his entire life to saving others through research of liver transplantation.

Thomas Earl Starzl grew up in a small town called LeMars, Iowa. He was influenced to become a doctor when his mother, who was a nurse, died of breast cancer just before he graduated from Westminster College in Missouri. He went on to medical school at Northwestern in Chicago, graduating in 1952 with an M.D and two PhDs. He then did an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Dr. Starzl did an amazing seven years of postgraduate school at Johns Hopkins, Miami and Northwestern. In a short time Starzl was a professor. He then served successfully on the surgical team at Northwestern, Denver and then eventually, in 1981, at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Starzl will always be known for the first liver transplant in human history, performed in 1963 on Bennie Solis who had biliary atresia. Unfortunately, three-year-old Bennie never made it through surgery. Dr. Starzl was the incredible man who helped us realize that transplant organ rejection can sometimes be stopped, and that it is sometimes reversible.

On July 23, 1967, Dr. Thomas E. Starzl performed the first successful liver transplant on nineteen-month-old Julie Rodriguez. She had liver cancer and unfortunately died 400 days later, but her portrait still hangs in Dr. Starzl’s home.

If it weren’t for Dr. Starzl we wouldn’t be as far as we are in terms of transplant medicine. I am so thankful to him for a second chance; a new life. I respect Thomas Starzl because he sacrificed so much, worked endless hours and never gave up all in the pursuit of saving lives

To read more about Dr. Starzl and his remarkable life check out #thomasstarzl

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