Dr. Francis Delmonico, C'66
As a young doctor Francis Delmonico decided to specialize in the still relatively new field of transplant surgery. “By replacing an organ, you are enabling a person to again live a productive life,” he says. “That appealed to me.”
Now, 35 years later, Dr. Delmonico is considered a world-renowned expert in the field and has “seen children who were my patients grow up to be adults with children of their own. I can’t imagine doing anything different with my life.”
Dr. Delmonico, who grew up in New York and graduated from high school at 16, initially considered the priesthood, but chose medicine instead, seeing both as a way to help others. As a student at the Mount, “a nurturing environment,” he says, he majored in biology and graduated with honors in 1966.
He went on to attend medical school at The George Washington University, but his experience at the Mount with its emphasis on spirituality remained with him. “To know the science of the human body is to view the genius of our creator,” he reflects.
Dr. Delmonico’s initial general surgical training was under the direction of pioneer transplant surgeon Dr. David Hume at the Medical College of Virginia, where Delmonico completed his training as chief resident in surgery in 1978. “This was an exciting and brand new field that held every promise to expand into what we see today–an accepted medical treatment for so many medical problems,” he says.
Delmonico joined the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1980 as a member of the Transplantation Unit, having earlier completed a clinical and research fellowship there. Dr. Delmonico, who is also a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, then went on to became the director of the renal transplantation service at the hospital from 1990 to 2004, treating patients, conducting research and teaching.
He has served as medical director of the New England Organ Bank; as a board member of the American Society of Transplantation, where he received the Distinguished Service Award; and as a member of the advisory committee on transplantation to the United States Secretary of Health.
As chair of the ethics committee of the Transplantation Society, Dr. Delmonico convened international forums on the live kidney donor and the liver, lung, intestine and pancreas donor. He has spoken out against the selling of organs on the black market and developed the Donation after Cardiac Death initiative.
More recently Dr. Delmonico was appointed the Transplantation Society’s director of medical affairs and named an advisor to the World Health Organization. He travels the world, from China to Kuwait to Guatemala, touching countless lives. In Guatemala, for example, he helped establish a center in pediatric transplantation and assisted in developing an organized system for organ donation.
“I feel very fortunate,” he says of his work.
As are those the world over who may now have a second chance at life.
Francis’ daughter, Laura McIntyre, graduated from the Mount, class of 1993.