Early clinical xenotransplantation experiences—An interview with Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD

Academic Article


  • © 2017 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Dr Thomas E. Starzl, who died on March 4, 2017, was one of the great pioneers of organ transplantation. He was also a pioneer in the field of xenotransplantation. In 1964, he carried out baboon kidney transplants in six patients with terminal renal disease for whom no living or deceased donor became available; graft survival was for 19-60 days, the grafts being lost largely through continuous complement activation. Between 1966 and 1974, he carried out one ex vivo liver perfusion and three orthotopic liver transplants using chimpanzees as sources of organs; graft survival was for <14 days. In 1992 and 1993, his team carried out baboon liver transplantation in two patients with cirrhosis from hepatitis B infection; graft survival was for 70 and 26 days, respectively. This early clinical experience is briefly discussed. Toward the end of his life, Dr Starzl was somewhat disillusioned by what he considered excessive regulation of medical research in the United States and believed that new advances were now likely to take place in countries such as China, where the regulatory framework is less developed.
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  • Cooper DKC
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  • 24
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  • 2