We pay tribute to the legacy of Dr. Thomas Starzl, who passed away earlier this month. Dr. Starzl, known as the Father of Modern Transplantation. conducted the first liver transplant in 1963, and was a pioneer in liver transplant and anti-rejection drugs throughout his career.
Dr. Starzl also directed the world’s first heart and liver transplant, which has an interesting connection with UT Southwestern Medical Center. In 1984, Stormie Jones, a 6-year-old girl from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, came to UT Southwestern and benefitted from research at the Medical Center that led to a greater understanding of how the body metabolizes cholesterol. Two UT Southwestern researchers, Drs. Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine the following year for their findings on how the body regulates cholesterol metabolism. Their findings laid the groundwork for development of the statin drugs now taken by millions to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”) and help prevent heart attacks.
As a result of this research and understanding, Stormie’s doctors at UT Southwestern determined that both a liver and heart transplant would be her best chance for survival, and they arranged for her to have this procedure done by Dr. Starzl.
Just as this famous transplant paved the way for more procedures to extend and save lives, the research by Drs. Goldstein and Brown serve as a strong foundation for continued research and discoveries on regulating and reducing cholesterol.
Learn more about important research discoveries on cholesterol here.
Read more about Dr. Starzl’s incredible career here.
Learn more about Stormie Jones, the world's first heart-liver transplant recipient, initially treated at UT Southwestern, here.