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Oscar Salvatierra Jr.

1935 - 2019
Oscar Salvatierra Jr. Obituary
Dr. Oscar Salvatierra, Jr.


Oscar passed away peacefully after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease at home surrounded by his loving family and close friends.

He was born in Phoenix, Arizona on April 15, 1935 to Josefina Garcia from Santa Ana, Mexico and Oscar Salvatierra from Tucson Arizona. Oscar is survived by five siblings: Yrma, Hector, Julieta, Maria Christina and Mario.

His work ethic and leadership skills began at an early age while delivering newspapers before school to save up for his education. His Catholic education began at S.S. Peter and Paul and Salpointe High School. It's often said that one walks uphill to school and back in the snow. Given this was Arizona, snow wasn't likely, but not having a motor vehicle and having humble beginnings was more than an understatement. He rode his bike or walked to school. Obtaining his education was always a priority.

He had passions for journalism, building model airplanes, participating in the debate club and yearbook committee, serving as President of his class and lettering for his football team. He excelled in academics, enough to obtain the boy state recognition which allowed him to meet the governor of Arizona. All these rites of passages lead to a scholarship to Georgetown University. He was the first to attend college in his family.

He obtained his B.S. from Georgetown University; his M.D. from the University of Southern California, did a surgery/urology residency at USC-LA County Medical Center, and a transplant surgery fellowship at UCSF. Dr. Oscar Salvatierra was a Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics, Emeritus, at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he also served as an Advising Dean. Most of his professional career was spent at UCSF (Chief, Transplant Service) and Stanford University (Director, Pediatric Kidney Transplantation). He has over 300 publications in the medical literature which include: introduction of previously universally forbidden pre-transplant donor-specific blood transfusions (DSTs) in order to modify the recipient immune response in HLA non-identical donor-recipient pairs; introduction of complete steroid-free immunosuppression for children; discovery and characterization of immunologic and hemodynamic factors with the transplantation of adult-sized kidneys (ASKs) into infants and small children, resulting in the conversion of the then-worst to the best graft survival rates; development of new procedures for patients with severe congenital structural abnormalities of the urinary tract that allow elimination of previously placed urine drainage tubes and intestinal bladder augments.

Dr. Salvatierra has served as President of five national and international transplant professional societies, including The American Society of Transplant Surgeons (ASTS), The Transplantation Society, and the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS). He worked 2 years with former Vice President Albert Gore and his staff to help draft the National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 (NOTA), which established a 3-tier infrastructure for the U.S. organ transplantation system. This included UNOS, the creation of 58 intermediate level regional Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) and provided for a central compulsory National Registry for ongoing evidence-based research and future transplant policy direction. NOTA also provided for the beginning of a national Bone Marrow Registry. NOTA is thus a unique private/public partnership that brought together 257 previously autonomous transplant centers under a national umbrella. This legislation defines the fiduciary responsibility to protect all donated organs for the public to which they belong, resulting in maximum utilization and equitable distribution of all organs for transplantation. Mr. Gore described Dr. Salvatierra as "the driving force [who] stands above all others as the individual most responsible for bringing groups together to pass P.L. 98-507 which has made life better for thousands of transplant patients and their families nation wide."

Dr. Salvatierra chaired the NIH National Advisory Board for kidney and urologic research. He was the first Governor elected to represent organ transplantation in the American College of Surgeons. He chaired the Stanford Medical School Faculty Senate. Dr. Salvatierra was appointed the Faculty Leader to organize and conduct the preparation for the successful 8-year Medical School LCME recertification process. He introduced Pope John Paul II for his Encyclical on Organ Transplantation and Donation at Rome's Palazzo die Congressi in the year 2000.

Dr. Salvatierra's honors include: Knighthood by the Republic of Italy, the Presidential Medal from the President of Argentina, a Special Commendation Resolution by the California State Legislature, the UCSF Chancellor's Award for Public Service, a Special Recognition Award by the UCSF Chancellor, Stanford's Rambar-Mark Award as Clinician of the Year and Stanford's Franklin Ebaugh Award for outstanding Medical Student Advising. Stanford's Oscar Salvatierra Annual Lectureship in Transplantation was created in his name. He was the winner of the 2007 Albion Walter Hewlett Award (sponsored by the Dept of Medicine and represents Stanford's highest award for a clinician-scientist), for being the "epitome of the academician dedicated to discovery in the biological sciences and to the sensitive and scientific application of such new knowledge in the effective treatment of human disease." He is one of only five surgeons to receive this award since its inception in 1983. He is also the recipient of the 2016 Pioneer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the ASTS. On the 50th anniversary of the first successful organ transplant, he was named one of 12 International Pioneers in Transplantation. Most recently the International Pediatric Transplant Association has recognized him with the 2019 Life Time Achievement Award.

Dr. Salvatierra served in the U.S. Army as a surgeon/urologist in the Vietnam War, was a volunteer surgeon at a Vietnamese hospital treating primarily pediatric war victims and was subsequently appointed by the U.S. Federal Court to the National Advisory Board for the Agent Orange litigation settlement. Dr. Salvatierra is himself 100% disabled from Agent Orange exposure. He has made a career-long commitment to serve as a mentor to medical students and young physicians in remembrance of the soldiers he cared for in Vietnam.

His care and commitment had no end. He followed his parents' advice, that you could succeed in doing anything if you worked hard enough, tried your best and set your mind to the task at hand. These are the same words that have been passed on to his children, Mark Meyer and Lisa Marie and their children; Josephine, Boden, Luke and Jake. He is survived by the love of his life Pam "my queen," with whom he shared a lifetime filled with love, joy and happiness. They traveled the world together and touched the lives of everyone they met. No matter what challenges they faced, they faced them together with strength, courage and dignity. Their love will live on forever.

A Funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, Mar 21 at 10 am at St. Raymond's Catholic Church, followed by the Burial at Holy Cross and Reception at The Left Bank, all in Menlo Park.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to The Oscar Salvatierra Emergency Fund, set up to help medical students. Send donations to: Development Services, Stanford University,
P.O. Box 20466, Stanford, CA, 94309-0466.
Please indicate the donation is In memory of Dr. Oscar Salvatierra Emergency Fund PTA1191484-100HEUT.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Mar. 20, 2019
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