Transplant pioneer Thomas E. Starzl of Pittsburgh, who would have turned 91 on March 11, died in his sleep on Saturday at his Pittsburgh home, according to his friend, former colleague and the executor of his estate, Dr. John Fung, director of the University of Chicago Transplantation Institute.
“He worked right up to the end of his life,” said Dr. Fung in an interview on Sunday morning. “He was working four-hour days in the same offices he had worked in for 30 years.”
Dr. Starzl, who performed the world’s first liver transplant in Denver in 1963, went on to achieve greater success after he joined the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1981 as a professor of surgery. He led the team of surgeons who performed Pittsburgh’s first liver transplant. That team performed 30 such transplants that year, making it the only liver transplant program in the country at the time.