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A Tribute to Dr. Thomas Starzl

(photo: Dr. Starzl overseeing the amazing transplant team)

My life changed in 2013 when I met Dr. Thomas Starzl. Dr. Starzl performed the first successful liver transplant at the University of Colorado in 1967. He spent the rest of his life saving lives, like mine.

(photo: Nick and Lexie Wallace with Dr. Starzl at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2013)

When I met Dr. Starzl I discovered that not only was he a great surgeon and a gifted researcher, but one of the nicest most caring people I had ever met. He became a friend and an idol.

Dr. Starzl passed away on March 4, 2017. It was a sad day for all whose lives he had touched, both personally and as a physician. Dr. Starzl leaves behind amazing legacy of discovery.

Thomas Starzl was so many things to so many people. He was a pioneer, a legend, a great human, and a great humanitarian.With determination and irresistible resolve, Thomas Starzl advanced medicine through his intuition and uncanny insight into both the technical and human aspects of even the most challenging problems.

(photo: Dr. Thomas Starzl, father of modern transplantation)

Even more extraordinary was his ability to gift that capacity to those around him, allowing his students and colleagues to discover the right stuff within themselves. Nobody who spent time with Thomas Starzl could remain unaffected. Including me!


(photo: Dr. Ron Busuttil, Nick Wallace and Dr. Thomas Starzl at his 90th birthday celebration in 2016)

I had the honor of attending Dr. Starzl’s 90th birthday celebration in March of 2016. There are no words to describe the love and respect in the ballroom that night. The celebration was attended by Starzl trained physicians from around the world. There were colleagues, family and a few of us patients whose lives had been saved by Dr. Starzl’s contributions to medicine.

I will always treasure that experience, and always miss him.

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