March 18, 1947 - August 17, 2020 Danny Thomas, M.D., admired and loved pediatrician, passed away August 17 at Keck Hospital of USC from the China Virus (Covid-19) in the presence of his family. He was born in Big Bear, CA and spent his boyhood with his single mother and two brothers in a modest house on a dirt road in Tarzana. Danny excelled in academics and athletics, especially competitive running, and went to UCLA on a full Track & Field scholarship in 1965. After an injury in 1967 forced him to leave UCLA's Track & Field program, he placed all his focus on academic achievements required for medical school.Due to his outstanding GPA after leaving Track, Danny was admitted to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1970. While Danny was interested in a number of medical specialties, he preferred Pediatrics and returned to Los Angeles for an Internship at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA). CHLA offered Danny tremendous opportunities for further specialization in fields that were still in their infancy. Danny, as always, wanted to be on the forefront of medicine and was one of the first Board Certified Pediatric Hepatologists; he co-founded CHLA's Liver Transplant Program in 1998 and today it is one of the U.S.' top centers as measured by number of operations performed and superior outcome. At the time of his death, Danny was CHLA's Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program and Section Head of Hepatology. He often said that he was "born to be a physician" and had no plans to retire; he intended to continue mentoring and improving the lives of children at CHLA.Danny developed an encyclopedic memory of both his patients and sports of all types – but his skill in medicine was truly his gift as well as his gift to humanity. Danny's life also included his family, his special dogs, Susie, Elvis and Charlie -- and many great friends. He kept in touch with classmates from Reseda High School as well as his UCLA Sigma Nu brothers with whom he shared patriotic and conservative values, as well as great professional ambitions. He was inspired by many people: outstanding colleagues at CHLA, Rafer Johnson, Larry Elder, Dennis Prager, American soldiers who gave their lives on Omaha Beach, and the accomplishments of Dian Fossey and Martha Robbins in Rwanda and Gabon, respectively. On his fourth and last trip to Africa in 2018, he was heartened to once again visit the Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda and, for the first time, experience the thrill of charging forest elephants in Gabon who were aiming for his jeep. "You must go faster, faster!", he told his driver. And that is how he lived his life: at full speed. Danny is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Judy, his son, Stephen, his daughter, Melanie, grandson, Ozzy, brothers, Bill Thomas and Richard Boyd and near relatives, Susie and Frank Heller. Danny will miss playing ball with Ozzy!Donations in Dan's memory may be made to:IvaDean Medical Student Scholarship Fund (in memory of Dr. Danny Thomas)https://giveto.uc.edu/give?appeal=C045A22F-713E-495F-A3DF-22445D657C2AorGorilla
Doctors, the only organization in the world providing life-saving veterinary care to wild mountain gorillas in East Africa. visit: https://www.gorilladoctors.org/donate/
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