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Starzl tributes: 'Unsurpassed intellect, passion and courage'

| Sunday, March 5, 2017, 10:42 a.m.
Dr. Thomas Starzl outside the Biomedical Building on Friday ,March 10, 2006.
Dr. Thomas Starzl outside the Biomedical Building on Friday ,March 10, 2006.

Tributes from Pittsburgh and around the world began to pour in Sunday about the late Dr. Thomas Starzl, who died early Saturday.

“Tom Starzl was a man of unsurpassed intellect, passion and courage whose work opened up a new frontier in science and forever changed modern medicine. He will be remembered for many things, but perhaps most importantly for the countless lives he saved through his pioneering work. We at Pitt have lost a friend and colleague who took the University to new heights of recognition and achievement.”

Patrick Gallagher, chancellor, University of Pittsburgh

“Dr. Starzl's pioneering work in organ transplantation set the standard for innovation and excellence at UPMC. An extraordinarily skilled and compassionate surgeon and brilliant researcher, he brought hope to the sickest of the sick, a legacy that we continue to build on today.”

Jeffrey A. Romoff, president and CEO, UPMC

“Tom Starzl's tremendous respect and affection for his patients became the life force of his career. Countless lives were saved through his advances in technique and his pioneering work to prevent organ rejection. There is not a transplant surgeon worldwide who has not, in some way, been influenced by his work.”

Dr. Arthur S. Levine, University of Pittsburgh senior vice chancellor for the Health Sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

“Tom Starzl devoted his life to the cause of human health and advanced the field of medicine in ways that were unimaginable to most. He applied a combination of extraordinary talent and steely determination to build an unparalleled record of impact as a uniquely gifted surgeon, a visionary researcher, a prolific scholar and the single most influential teacher in the ground-breaking field of organ transplantation. In the process, he became a hero to countless transplant patients, their families and their physicians, while also playing a key role in the elevation of Pitt and in the transformation of Pittsburgh.”

Mark A. Nordenberg, chancellor emeritus, University of Pittsburgh

“Words cannot convey how deeply saddened we all are with the passing of Dr. Starzl. It's impossible to quantify the magnitude of his contributions to the field of transplant. I feel so deeply honored and privileged to have had the opportunity to know him personally over the last few years. The world has lost today the greatest figure in the history of transplant, and I have lost my greatest mentor. The Starzl Transplant Institute will continue to work tirelessly to carry on his rich legacy.”

Dr. Abhinav Humar, clinical director of the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute and chief of the Division of Transplantation in the Division of Surgery at UPMC

“Among the many lessons he taught us, I have most recently been reminded of how Dr. Starzl championed achieving truly lifelong outcomes in the pediatric population. He always communicated a passion for pediatric transplant and reminded us how children often led the way in transplantation discovery and results.”

— Dr. George Mazariegos, chief, Pediatric Transplantation, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

“Dr. Thomas Starzl is a true Pittsburgh icon and hero, whose work and impact on the medical world is known internationally. He came from humble beginnings, the son of immigrants who came here to live the American dream, and rose to international acclaim. In 1962, he performed the first successful kidney transplant and, in 1967, the first human liver transplant. He conducted research on prescription medications that allowed transplant patients to live more full lives, and made transplant of other organs possible. He founded the Pittsburgh Transplantation Institute, which was later renamed the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute in his honor, and was founder or member of numerous organizations aimed at providing research, education and support for transplant patients and those surgeons who perform such work. In 2004, he was awarded the Presidential National Medal of Science.

“Our economy, as well, continues to see the benefit of his work in our research and educational facilities over 50 years later. The number of lives which were, and continue to be transformed, by Dr. Starzl's groundbreaking work are immeasurable. His work will live on throughout this region, our country and our world for generations to come.

“Our world is a better place today because he lived, and we are proud that he called Allegheny County home. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his wife, Joy, and his family, friends and colleagues on his death.”

— Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County executive

“Pittsburgh lost one of our finest innovators in Dr. Thomas Starzl. Not only did he save countless lives with his pioneer advancements in organ transplant surgery, Dr. Starzl personally trained and mentored generations of doctors who went on to cure patients all over the world. Dr. Starzl laid the foundation for the University of Pittsburgh's continued leadership in biomedical research and transplant surgery, and we are forever grateful for his legacy.”

Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh mayor

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