Pitt remembers Dr. Thomas E. Starzl

THE PITT NEWS | Grant Bergman

Thomas E. Starzl passed away on March 4 in his Pittsburgh home. Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh

Although Dr. Thomas E. Starzl is known in the Pitt medical community for his contributions to the organ transplant field, his grandson Ravi Starzl knows him as an ice cream connoisseur.

The elder Starzl was such a fan of ice cream that he would frequently eat it for dinner, his grandson said. He was partial to Blue Bunny, since it’s produced in his hometown of Le Mars, Iowa.

“Because he was concerned what he liked would go out of style, he would buy absurd quantities of it,” Ravi said. “He would go out and buy, like, 14 varieties of ice cream.”

Outside of his role as ice cream connoisseur, Starzl was a revolutionary transplant surgeon who performed the first liver transplant in 1967. He passed away on March 4 in his Schenley Farms home at 90 years old.

Starlz’s death ended what was a 36-year tenure at Pitt. He worked as both a professor and a surgeon, until 1991, for several Pittsburgh hospitals including UPMC Presbyterian and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

“He will be remembered for many things, but perhaps most importantly for the countless lives he saved through his pioneering work,” Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement released after Starzl’s death. Continue reading