Groundbreaking transplant surgeon dies at 79

dmoore@herald-leader.comJuly 20, 2012 

Dr. Patrick Fumio Hagihara

Dr. Patrick Fumio Hagihara of Lexington, a pioneer in transplant surgery, died Wednesday. He was 79.

Hagihara accomplished the first heterotopic human liver transplant with a team of three other surgeons in 1964 at the University of Minnesota, where he had taken up medical residency. It was the first liver transplant of any kind at that university.

Hagihara had to relearn English, Evelyn said, because U.S. involvement in World War II kept him from returning from a visit to his grandparents in Japan. Once the war ended, he graduated valedictorian at Commerce High School in New York, attended Columbia University and Albany Medical School, and completed his residency.

He was a Navy surgeon during Vietnam for two years.

He worked at UK as a colon rectal specialist from 1971 until his retirement in 2007.

"'Why in the world did you pick that specialty?'" his wife, Evelyn Hagihara, remembered asking him. "He said: 'Because no one else is doing it.'"

After retirement, he worked part-time at a Veteran's Administration hospital.

Visitation will be at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home — Harrodsburg Road. Funeral services will follow at 4 p.m.

Daniel Moore: (859) 231-3344. Twitter: @heraldleader

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