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In Memoriam: William Pfaff, M.D.

UNOS shares with the donation and transplantation community in commemorating the life and achievements of the late Dr. William Pfaff, Professor Emeritus of Surgery at the University of Florida.

Dr. Pfaff was a true transplant pioneer and a creative force in many aspects of transplantation and organ donation. He performed the first kidney transplant in the state of Florida and served as both director of the transplant program and medical director of the organ procurement program at the University of Florida from 1966 to 1995. He served in many volunteer OPTN/UNOS capacities over a 15-year period, including a term as the organization’s president from 1998 to 1999. He was a charter member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS) and held leadership positions with other organizations including the Southeastern Organ Procurement Foundation and the ESRD Network of Florida.

He had many professional achievements ranging from his personal care of transplant patients over two decades, to his research interests in organ preservation and post-transplant survival, to his passionate advocacy for organ donation. But even more so, he is remembered by his many friends and colleagues for his personal charisma and dedication. “He was as gentle a man as you would want to know; bright, full of energy and passion for his patients and for transplantation,” said Dennis Heinrichs, president of LifeLink Foundation, Inc. “He played an instrumental role in developing programs in Florida and across the nation. He touched a great many lives with his passion for life and for service to others. He will be sadly missed.”

Dr. Pfaff’s own words, expressed in an interview with the ASTS (, sum up his passion for his life’s work and give a fitting testament to the example he set for so many: “The impact of transplantation on my life has been immense. It’s the best decision I ever made. I have had more fun learning, doing, improving, sometimes really achieving, and I particularly enjoyed my role in the organizations that relate to transplantation.”

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