Dr. Willard E. Goodwin
Dr. Willard E. Goodwin was a successful surgeon, urologist, and longtime companion and colleague of Dr. Starzl. Born and raised in California, Goodwin attended the University of California at Berkeley before moving on to Johns Hopkins to pursue his medical degree. Goodwin was heavily influenced by his uncle, Dr. Elmer Belt, one of the founders of the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center; Goodwin followed in his footsteps and pursued a similar career in urology. He interned at Johns Hopkins’ Brady Urological Institute for just over a year before being swept up by World War II, where he served both in the South Pacific and England. Returning to the Brady after the war’s end, he soon began making waves with novel urological discoveries. In 1951, Goodwin accepted a position at UCLA as the Head of the Division of Urology. Under his leadership, the fledgling program began to take off, introducing new techniques, procedures, and tools, such as the percutaneous nephrostomy tube.
Goodwin, looking ahead to the future, was intrigued by the burgeoning field of organ transplantation, and took a 6-month sabbatical in 1958 to study with Joseph Murray at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, learning about the intricacies of renal transplantation. Upon his return to UCLA, Goodwin reported the first successful use of steroids to reverse allograft rejection. Early deaths of many of his patients, which were a usual result for that early era of transplantation, held the program back at first, though it would later grow in size and impact under his direction. In 1963, Goodwin met Starzl at an American Surgical Association meeting, a meeting which Starzl described as his induction to the “kidney transplant fraternity” that was slowly developing at a few key institutions.[ref 1] Goodwin visited Starzl’s rapidly growing program at Colorado later that year, learning from Starzl’s accomplishments and taking a copious amount of notes about procedures, patients, and the program in general. It was Goodwin’s suggestion to temporarily stop the earliest liver transplant trials, which had not been successful, in order to perfect the procedure and control rejection in kidney patients, a strategy which Starzl followed for four years.
Goodwin remained as the chairman of the urology division at UCLA until 1970, when he stepped down to allow himself more leeway to study urological issues in-depth. He maintained a role as an active researcher and surgeon for many years. Dr. Starzl would reach out to his old friend and colleague when he began writing The Puzzle People, eager for his input on describing the state of transplantation in the early 1960s. Their flurry of correspondence during the period of the book’s formation shows Starzl confiding closely in Goodwin, including some hesitation about the success of such an endeavor. (Doc. 1) However, Starzl’s determined nature won out, and most of the letters describe the writing and publication process, of which Goodwin, as a fact-checker, was part. (Doc. 2) On top of simply seeking out factual corrections, Starzl was also careful to ask Goodwin about including a particularly sad episode of family tragedy, which was eventually included in the published memoir. (Doc. 3) This exchange reveals the close relationship of the two men more than two decades later. Dr. Goodwin passed away in 1998, just two days before his 83rd birthday. The correspondence held in Dr. Starzl’s papers shows a long-lasting and respectful relationship between two men whose contribution to the field of organ transplantation has been truly enduring.
- Thomas E. Starzl, The Puzzle People (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1992), 102
Dr. Starzl expresses dismay about the future of The Puzzle People to Dr. Goodwin, who gave feedback on the book in its early forms.
Letter, May 10, 1991 Thomas Starzl to Willard Goodwin, 1 page
© Dr. Thomas Starzl
Dr. Starzl expresses more energetic feelings about his book to his longtime friend, just four short months later.
Letter, September 20, 1991, Thomas Starzl to Willard Goodwin,
© Dr. Thomas Starzl