On June 23, after a viewing of the documentary “Burden of Genius” at the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Hall Theatre, Joy Starzl unveiled a beautiful bronze statue of her late husband, Dr. Thomas Starzl. She sat next to him and gently touched his face. It was a touching moment and allowed the hundreds that had just watched the documentary another intimate moment with Joy and Tom Starzl. They had been married for 36 years when Tom passed in March 2017.
Many who had been training with Dr. Starzl or were his patients came to Pittsburgh for the screening and the unveiling. According to the “Burden of Genius” website, the film plunges the viewer into the controversy swirling around Starzl’s turbulent 60-year career before we land in the 1980s, the decade when organ transplantation, the stuff of science fiction, becomes a reality. “Burden of Genius” is the story of an innovator as complex and elusive as the biological secrets he unlocked. It is also a reflection on the price of scientific progress by the man many consider the greatest surgeon of the 20th century and the father of organ transplantation.
Unfortunately the film is not yet for all to see. It was most recently shown at the Transplant Games of America in Salt Lake City. Spotted at the Pittsburgh screening: Stacy Smith (KDKA), Elaine Effort, Kim Wood Slater, Bill Strickland (double lung transplant recipient), Cyril Wecht, Franco Harris, Margaret Washington and Brenda Tate.
The statue is right outside of the Cathedral of Learning, the place where Dr. Strazl spent so much time on Sundays walking and relaxing.
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