May 13, 1985: Dr. Thomas Starzl cleans off excess tissue during transplant surgery at Presbyterian Hospital as patient awaits liver.
Transplant pioneer Dr. Thomas Starzl has always downplayed his hero image. In Apr. 1984, the Post-Gazette ran a profile of Dr. Starzl. “His life, said his family and friends, is like few others, an endless stream of long workdays followed by equally long worknights.”
"Even those who know him best are amazed at his endurance and perseverance. He seldom needs more than five hours of sleep a night, often going days with only naps on planes between back-to-back operations. His eating pattern is just as sporadic."
He is a workaholic, thriving on his work. “Starzl thinks nothing of working on a medical article after a night of surgery; he’s written more than 500 so far. He forgets none of his patients’ names, remembering even the dates they were operated on,” the article said.
“‘He has great sensitivity and awareness. I’ve seen him cry when he had to tell a family he’s lost a son or a daughter,’ said Paul Taylor, the University of Colorado’s transplant coordinator, who worked with Starzl for two decades.”