Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

The “Father of Transplantation” created a pioneering medical center and a city transformed by medicine.




Dr. Starzl shortly before retiring from Surgery, 1991 | photos courtesy University of Pittsburgh
 

He was a pioneer of modern medicine. The awardee of more than 200 honors. A name that will be remembered perennially beside those of Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk.

While the world will remember Dr. Thomas E. Starzl as the “Father of Transplantation,” Pittsburghers also will remember him as an adopted son who transformed the city into a place known for “eds and meds.”

Starzl died March 4 at his home in Oakland, one week before his 91st birthday. His house lay a stone’s throw from the University of Pittsburgh, where he conducted most of his life’s work and where the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute bears his name. He joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine about 15 years after performing the world’s first successful liver transplant at the University of Colorado and became chief of transplantation services at Presbyterian University Hospital (now UPMC Presbyterian); he would continue working in Pittsburgh until his death.

​UPMC would become the world’s busiest transplant center — and grew from a group of three university-affiliated hospitals before Starzl’s arrival to a network of nearly 20 hospitals and numerous other facilities across the region and abroad, as well as a health-insurance provider.


In 1994, Pittsburgh Magazine honored Starzl and the entire UPMC transplant team with its Pittsburgher of the Year designation. At that time, we referred to Starzl’s credentials as “mind-boggling,” ranging from his liver-transplant work to pioneering major new drugs for organ transplants. We also noted his role as one of the first full-time research doctors, serving as president of both the International Transplant Society and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and founding the Transplant Recipients’ International Organization, committed to education, support and awareness for transplant recipients and donors and their families. We quoted one of Starzl’s colleagues as saying that when the surgeon came to Pittsburgh in 1980, Pitt’s medical center was, at best, “second-rate.”

By 1994, UPMC had 12,000 workers and was the largest non-government employer in the city of Pittsburgh. Today, it has more than 65,000 workers and is the largest non-government employer in the state.

​UPMC President Jeffrey Romoff told the magazine at the time, “The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has grown dramatically over the past 12 years” since Starzl’s arrival.

At Starzl’s passing, Romoff released the following statement: “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.”

As the region’s health care systems continue to grow and our universities continue to thrive, so does Pittsburgh’s reputation for quality medical care and breakthroughs in medical research. While such a reputation cannot be traced to individual efforts, it is difficult to imagine the region’s health care lifeblood without the contributions of Thomas E. Starzl.  
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module Edit ModuleShow TagsEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

The Latest

Pittsburgh's Tomorrow – What We Need in the Future

As the year comes to a close, we look forward to what Pittsburgh can be –– and what we'd like to see change –– in the coming years.

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

New Restaurants That Opened in October in Pittsburgh

A tasting menu restaurant, Brazilian cuisine and new sandwich spot are among the offerings.

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

The 400-Word Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy shines in an unconventional tale.

How to Plan Your Light Up Night Like a Pro

We've got a few tried and tested ways to enjoy the start of the holiday season without giving yourself a stress headache.

Just Films Series Opens Big Conversations

The screening series will next week feature "Served Like a Girl," about the lives of female veterans in the United States.

The 400-Word Review: Outlaw King

In Netflix's historical epic, Braveheart gets another chapter (and an upgrade).

More than $2 Million Raised in the Wake of Tree of Life Tragedy

The Tree of Life shooting shook the Pittsburgh community — but its reverberations reached way past city limits. Donors near and far have shown their support in a variety of campaigns and fundraisers.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

Pittsburgh Just Dodged the Amazon Bullet

We should be relieved that the tech giant opted not to move in.

Comments

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

It's Official: Amazon HQ2 is Not Coming to Pittsburgh

Instead of one city, the giant retailer is splitting its second headquarters between northern Virginia and New York City.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

How to Shop Like a Pro for Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh

Our guide to produce, pastries, libations and more will help your table brim with tasty treats from Pittsburgh-area businesses.

Comments

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Drink Like the French on Beaujolais Nouveau Day

Why and where to celebrate on Thursday, which marks the annual release of the young wine.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Fitness: Five Great Trails to Run in the Fall in Pittsburgh

Don’t resign yourself to the gym treadmills just yet – fall is one of the best times of the year to get outside and pound the pavement, surrounded by falling leaves and the possibility of grabbing a hot latte on the way home.

Comments

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

Love Sourdough? Find the Best There Is at These Five Bake Shops

We dove into the local artisan bread scene to find the best places that bake naturally leavened bread in Pittsburgh.

Comments


Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Five Essential November Events in Pittsburgh

Avian art, altruistic alt-rock and more November nights.

Comments

Ten Prohibited Pittsburgh Halloween Costumes

Ten Prohibited Pittsburgh Halloween Costumes

Locally-inspired Halloween costumes that you should, under absolutely no circumstances, attempt to wear.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

Steelers Have Changed the Narrative in Dramatic Fashion

A defense that was groping to accomplish the simplest of tasks has started to dominate. The offense has stopped getting in its own way and started exploding scoreboards.

Comments

Words May Comfort But It’s What We Do Next That's Most Important

Words May Comfort But It’s What We Do Next That's Most Important

The vigils and the videos, the uniform patches and helmet decals, the public declarations and the moments of silence are as appropriate as they are comforting, but they’re not enough.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The 400-Word Review: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Coen Brothers' western anthology is less than the sum of its parts, but it boasts some great tales.

Comments

The 400-Word Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

The 400-Word Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Melissa McCarthy shines in an unconventional tale.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

‘X’ Marks the Spot for This Wedding Scavenger Hunt

She thought she was going on a simple scavenger hunt. She never dreamed it would end with a wedding.

Comments

A Tale of Two Weddings

A Tale of Two Weddings

In a theatrical performance set to stun audiences for years to come, this Pittsburgh couple took on two weddings — one featuring a mayor, a movie trailer and a secret marriage.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

Schoolhouse Electric Brings Hip Lighting, Coffee, to Pittsburgh

The Portland, Ore-based lighting and furnishings store, which shares space with a high-end coffeehouse from the team behind The Vandal restaurant, is located in East Liberty's Detective Building.

Comments

Own a Piece of the Allegheny County Courthouse With New Gift Line

Own a Piece of the Allegheny County Courthouse With New Gift Line

Wendell August Forge is turning the century-old terracotta roof tiles into a line of collectible itms that include wall hangings and beer flight carriers.

Comments