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In Memoriam: G. Melville Williams, M.D.

G. Melville Williams, M.D., a pioneer in transplant and the founding president of UNOS

The life and legacy of a pioneer in transplant and the founding president of UNOS.

United Network for Organ Sharing honors the life and leadership of G. Melville Williams, M.D., a transplant pioneer and a towering force in the development of the transplant system in the United States. He passed away Aug. 27, 2020, at the age of 89.

Dr. Williams trained in transplant surgery at the Medical College of Virginia (MCV), one of the country’s earliest transplant programs. He served on the MCV faculty before relocating to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he spent more than 40 years as a surgeon, professor of surgery, and chief of transplantation. Even after his retirement from active surgery, Dr. Williams continued to be involved in research at the institution. He performed seminal research in the understanding and treatment of immunologic organ rejection. He also trained and mentored countless surgeons, physicians and other health professionals during his lengthy tenure.

Dr. Williams was an early participant in the South-Eastern Organ Procurement Foundation and the founding president of UNOS from 1984 to 1985. In that capacity he advocated for the passage of the National Organ Transplant Act and prepared the organization for its eventual role serving as the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network under contract with the federal government. He later chaired the UNOS Scientific Advisory Committee.

A founding member of the American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), Dr. Williams also served as its president from 1982 to 1983, and was recognized by the organization with its Pioneer Award, the society’s highest honor. Additionally, he was president of the Halsted Society and the Southern Association of Vascular Surgery and chaired the board of the directors of the former Living Legacy Foundation (now Infinite Legacy) organ procurement organization.

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