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On behalf of the Canadian transplant community, we are sad to announce the passing of a pioneer in the field of transplantation. On March 4, Thomas E. Starzl died peacefully at his home in Pittsburgh. Dr. Starzl is recognized by many around the world as the ‘father of organ transplantation’. Born in Le Mars, Iowa, he attended Northwestern University, where he obtained an M.Sc., a Ph.D., and an M.D. He went on to surgical residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he developed an interest in liver biology.
From 1962 to 1981, he worked at the University of Colorado, the site of many of his groundbreaking achievements in organ transplantation. In Denver, he began one of the largest early series of deceased donor kidney transplants using azathioprine based immunosuppression in 1962, and the following year, performed the world’s first liver transplant, a feat widely considered impossible at the time.
Dr. Starzl moved to the University of Pittsburgh in 1981, establishing many of the immunosuppressive protocols which ushered liver transplantation into the mainstream. During this time, the Pittsburgh program became a global leader in transplantation and immunology. His years there were marked by early attempts at hepatic xenotransplantation using baboon livers, at pancreatic islet transplantation and the development of theories on mixed chimerism and tolerance. His later work contributed significantly to the advent of tacrolimus as the mainstay of many modern immunosuppressive protocols.
Among the most prolific academics in medicine, Dr. Starzl published more than 2200 articles in his career, with over 100 articles per year for 8 consecutive years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Many of these have been seminal papers in the field, cited thousands of times. He taught a generation of students who became leaders in the field around the world. His experiences were chronicled eloquently in his 1992 autobiography, “The Puzzle People”, in which he also revealed the deep connection to all his patients as perhaps the driving force in his life. With an astonishing variety and number of innovations, it is difficult to name a single individual who has had a greater impact on their field, and the CST offers its deepest sympathies to his family, his patients, and his colleagues in Pittsburgh and around the world.
“It is true that transplant surgeons saved patients, but the patients rescued us in turn and gave meaning to what we did, or tried to,” - From The Puzzle People
MACLEAN, Lloyd D. OC, MD, PhD, FRSC, passed away peacefully on the morning of January 14, 2015 at the age of 90.
Dr. Loyd MacLean, a pioneering general surgeon in Canada who has been a leader at the highest levels (first Canadian President of the American Surgical Association). Dr. MacLean performed the first deceased donor transplant (a kidney) in Canada in 1963, and later assisted on one of the longest surviving heart transplants in the world.
HEIMBECKER, Dr. Raymond, M.D., FRCS, O.C. On February 13, 2014, Dr. Raymond Heimbecker, M.D., FRCS, O.C., died peacefully at home in Collingwood, Ontario.
Ray received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1944. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Toronto in 1947. He also received a Master of Arts in physiology and a Master of Science in surgery.
A pioneer in cardiovascular surgery he performed the world's first complete heart valve transplant in 1962 and Canada's first modern heart transplant in 1981. He became a Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Surgeons of Canada, the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Chest Physicians.
In 1974, he was an obvious choice to become the first Professor and Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery in the new University Hospital in London, Ontario; both experimental and clinical work in the hospital flourished under his direction.
In 1997, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for being "at the forefront of his specialty, developing advanced techniques for heart surgery and assisting in the first human heart valve transplant".
In 2002, he was awarded the Order of Ontario.
CARPENTER, Charles Bernard MD Died on September 30, 2011 at RiverWoods at Exeter, in Exeter NH, after a valiant struggle with Alzheimer's disease. A long time resident of Weston, MA, and Bar Harbor, ME, he was born in Melrose, MA in 1933 and was predeceased by his parents, Seymour C. Carpenter and Pauline F. Carpenter. A graduate of Dartmouth College (1955), Dartmouth Medical School (1956) and Harvard Medical School (1958), he served as a medical officer in the US Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. His career spanned more than 44 years at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School as a pioneer in the development of clinical organ transplantation and leading an extensive research program as Director of the Laboratory of Immunogenetics and Transplantation. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Sandra Davis Carpenter, son Bradford D. Carpenter and his wife Ellen, granddaughters Michaela and Emma of Santa Monica, CA and son Scott C. Carpenter and his wife Tatiana, grandson Andres, and granddaughter Annette of Coconut Creek, FL.
Dr. Carpenter’s research was focused on studying the molecular targets for the immune response to transplanted tissues. Dr. Carpenter trained 60 postdoctoral fellows in his lab, many of whom are now leaders in academic nephrology.
During the course of his career at the Brigham he served at various times as the Director of the Tissue Typing Laboratory, the Interhospital Organ Bank, the Immunogenetics Laboratory, and as the Acting Director of the Renal Division (2001-2003). Dr. Carpenter was a founding member of the Transplantation Society, the American Society of Nephrology, the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, and the American Society of Transplantation. Dr. Carpenter served as President of the latter two organizations. He was the 2004 recipient of the John P. Peters Award of the American Society of Nephrology and the 2005 recipient of the David Hume Award of the National Kidney Foundation.
We will all miss this giant of a man who was an extraordinary mentor and a pioneer and leader of Transplantation Nephrology for so many years.
Dr. Mark Pescovitz passed away suddenly on Sunday, December 12, 2010. He was involved in a traffic accident that was caused by the snow storms in the Midwest.
"Beyond his surgical skills, he was a real leader in the area of transplant clinical trials and the use of anti CD20 therapy in transplant rejection, HUS/TTP and others. Mark's work is also very well known to the ID community for his leadership in the clinical trials around oral ganciclovir and valganciclovir to name a few. He was also a leader in the NIH funded Type 1 Diabetes Trial Network. He had developed and led several clinical trials looked at immunologic therapies for new onset diabetics. He led the recently completed study evaluating the use of rituximab (anti-CD20 antibody) for new onset type 1 diabetes. This study showed positive results and has been accepted by the NEJM. Mark was also a gifted photographer and a very dedicated father and family man. He frequently beamed when asked the question of what his children were up to. He was so very proud of them."
Dr. Spoor received his medical degree from the University of Calgary in 1995 and then studied cardiac surgery at the University of Alberta. He moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2003 and was most recently working as a clinical surgery instructor for the University of Michigan Medical School. He and his wife Susan, who is also a doctor, lived in Ann Arbor with their three children.
Dr. Spoor was one of four medical specialists and two pilots on board a Cessna Citation when it crashed into Lake Michigan on June 5, 2007. The donor team was transporting various human organs from Milwaukee to a patient in critical condition in the Detroit-area of Michigan.
Not having Dr. Robert Zhong to work with makes every day different for William Wall, director of the multi-organ transplant program at London Health Sciences Centre.
"It is a huge, gaping loss for us," Wall said.
Regarded as one of the University of Western Ontario's brightest researchers and professors, Zhen (Robert) Zhong died Sept. 6 from cancer. He was 60.
Zhong was a leader in organ transplant research and a Canada Research Chair in transplantation and experimental surgery.
He was also a scientist at the Robarts Research Institute in London, director of the microsurgery lab at LHSC and a scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute.
Colleagues remember him as a man of great humility.
"Everyone held him in the highest regard. He was always quick to acknowledge the contributions of others, often downplaying his own outstanding accomplishments," said Wall.
Pioneering microsurgery, Zhong attracted a steady stream of surgeons from around the world to London to study his techniques, Wall said.
"No single individual meant more to the (UWO) faculty of medicine, the hospital, the Robarts Research Institute and the Lawson Research Institute combined than Dr. Zhong. His work and sphere of influence permeated each of those institutions," he said.
Carol Herbert, dean of the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at UWO, remembered Zhong as "a real gentleman."
"He provided superb leadership to his research colleagues, fellows and graduate students," Herbert said.
Saskatoon doctor pioneered kidney transplants and, after battling Saskatchewan medicare in a historic and bitter 1962 strike, became its outspoken defender.
A Saskatoon doctor credited with pioneering kidney transplantation in Canada “was a caregiver in the most beautiful and most expansive meaning of that word.” Marc Baltzan, who, in 1963, was part of the team that performed Canada’s second kidney transplant, was instrumental in introducing to Saskatchewan new kidney treatments, including dialysis and transplant surgery.
“He never lost interest in new areas of endeavor,” said Tom Molloy, Dr. Baltzan’s friend and lawyer for many years. “He was very active in medical research right up until the end”.
An outspoken supporter of medicare, Dr. Baltzan frequently wrote for newspapers about the economics of health care. “He understood what medical costs really reflected, whether it was home care, whether it was a hospital stay, whether it was visits to the doctor’s office,” said Judge David Wright, a long-time friend. “He understood that better than many politicians, from a political/economic viewpoint as well as a medical viewpoint.”
As head of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Baltzan commissioned a report on the impact that technology and an aging population have on Canada’s health-care system. The report was ahead of its time, said former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, who took part in it as well as heading his 2002 commission on medicare.
All the same, Dr. Baltzan was not always a fully convinced believer in medicare. In 1962, he took on the role of media spokesman during the bitter strike by doctors. On Dominion Day that year, Saskatchewan had introduced North America’s first government medical-insurance plan, and physicians in the province responded by withdrawing all but emergency services. The medical profession saw it as the first step to tyranny: authoritarian control of doctors, soon to be followed by the subjugation of all the professions and the public at large.
As an advocate of the physicians, Dr. Baltzan went to Britain to better spread the word during the strike.
“I was sent overseas to explain to English doctors and the media that people were not dying in the streets in Saskatchewan,” Dr. Baltzan told the Globe and Mail in 1986. The 1962 strike had the support of about 90 per cent of the province’s medical profession, and the issue was very emotional, Dr. Baltzan said in an interview. “A doctors’ strike is always an emotional issue. I think the only issue people feel more strongly about is whether to build an arena downtown or in the outskirts.”
In his opinion, the issues had remained unchanged. “People understood back then that the issue was not medicare, but how to go about introducing it. Likewise, the issue in Ontario is not whether to end extra-billing, but how to end extra-billing.”
Mr. Romanow said on Sunday that Dr. Baltzan was “A caregiver in the most beautiful and most expansive meaning of that word.”
His legacy was long-ranging because he influenced the practice, policy and the future of health care in Canada, added Mr. Romanow. “This is truly one of Canada’s outstanding Canadians.”
In 1999, Dr. Baltzan was named to Saskatchewan’s Order of Merit.
Marc Baltzan died in his sleep on Saturday after suffering heart disease. He was 75.
Obituaries Globe and Mail, January 2, 2005
Canadian Press; with files from Globe and Mail archives
Dr. McKenna was a member of the CST for many years. She was a full professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Services at the University of Calgary, she was Director of the Tissue Typing Laboratory at Calgary Laboratory Services, she was a member of the Immunology Research Group (U of C), and a valued leader in the Transplantation Program in the Calgary Health Region.
Rachel McKenna PhD died on January 25th, 2003, aged 46, of advanced breast cancer after an unflinching 3-year fight against the disease. She immigrated to Canada from Ireland with her husband, James Gough, in 1980, worked at the University of Manitoba for 18 years, and in 1998 accepted an offer from the University of Calgary and Calgary Laboratory Services. Dr. McKenna published numerous scientific papers, addressed many national and international scientific meetings as well as organizations promoting women in scientific careers. She lived a complete life and touched many other lives in her time.
Dr. Suren N. Sehgal (1932-2003) was born in Khushab, India, which is a very small village in what is now Pakistan. After completing his PhD, Dr. Sehgal was offered and accepted a post-doc fellowship at the National Research Council of Canada. Afterwards, he was recruited by Dr. Roger Gaudry, the Director of Research at Ayerst-McKenna-Harrison in Montreal. In 1964, a Canadian scientific expedition traveled to Easter Island ( or Rapa Nui, as it is known by locals) to gather plant and soil samples. The expedition shared their soil samples with the microbiology team at Ayerst's research laboratories where, Dr. Sehgal identified and isolated a new bio-chemical compound that contained potent anti-fungal properties. He and his team quickly discovered that the compound also suppressed the immune system.
Ayerst shut down the facilities in Montreal and Dr. Sehgal moved with a small contingent to Princeton NJ in 1983. Rapamycin’s reputation continued to gain momentum as MD/PhD students reported potent effects of this drug. Dr. Sehgal persisted in his efforts to develop Rapamycin and the drug received FDA approval in 1999. In 1998, Dr. Sehgal was diagnosed with colon cancer. He completed his work with Rapamune and retired to be close to his grand children in Seattle, Washington in 1999. He spent his last few weeks surrounded by friends and family.
On the 21st of January, 2003, Suren left this world. The legacy he has left behind will live on, in the minds, memories, as well as through the lives of all involved in transplantation in any way - scientists, health care professionals and recipients of organ transplants alike. The CST acknowledged Dr. Sehgal's pioneering contributions to transplantation by a Lifetime Achievement Award two years ago.