It’s a part of Colorado’s history that often goes unknown. How medical advances that have saved millions of lives, are because of work in Colorado. Kidney and liver transplants, today, they are not as rare as they were in the 1960’s thanks in large part to these two surgeons.

One of these two surgeons would go on to be known as the "father of transplantation." The two, together, can be thanked for their work in the 1960's, to this day. Did you know of Colorado's connection to kidney and liver transplants?


If you do a quick search for "famous Colorado doctors," you're not going to see a lot of familiar names, let alone these two gentlemen. That's a shame, considering how they very much changed the face of transplants as we known them. Maybe you know of someone who's had a kidney or liver transplant; do you think they know about these two?

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I was recently reading an article in Esquire Magazine regarding the need for kidneys for kidney transplants; there are many people who need transplants, but not as many who are donating them. There is loose talk of a fund that would pay people to donate their kidneys, but that seems many years down the line. Part of that article spoke to how thing have certainly changed.

Before these two surgeons from Denver got involved, kidney and liver transplants were not pursued, because of their very dire, 90% failure rate. Then, in the mid-late 1960's, these two surgeons (each with the first name "Thomas") came to the table with something amazing: They had turned it all around: They had found a way to have a 90% success rate.


The lead surgeon was Dr. Thomas Starzl, and the second was Dr. Thomas Marchioro. They were in Denver at University of Colorado. They had discovered, through their successful testing, that if the patient was given a regimen of two drugs (prednisone and azathioprine) a few weeks before surgery, it would make the body more willing to accept the new kidney.

By 1967, many, many more kidney (and liver) transplants began taking place. The success of their work would find that more and more patients were able to get transplants; however, to this day, there are not enough people are donating kidneys. 

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