Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

Dr. Paul Ichiro Terasaki, who spent three years with his family in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II before becoming a pioneer in organ transplant medicine, has died. He was 86.

A statement from UCLA, where Terasaki earned three degrees, said he died Monday.

Terasaki, professor emeritus of surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, developed the test that became the international standard method for tissue typing, the statement said.

The procedure, which assesses the compatibility of organ donors and recipients, has been used for all kidney, heart, liver, pancreas, lung and bone marrow donors and recipients for the past 40 years.

In 1984, Terasaki founded One Lambda with eight of his former students. The company, which he sold in 2012, now has more than 270 employees and continues to play a central role in the advancement of tissue typing.

Terasaki was also a noted supporter of the UCLA campus.

“The campus mourns the passing of one of UCLA’s most accomplished scientists and most generous benefactors,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

“Paul brought great prestige to our university as a distinguished member of our faculty and through his legendary accomplishments in transplant medicine.

“He often said that he owed his career to UCLA because the labs here gave him the freedom to pursue his innovations. On behalf of our faculty and students, the feeling is mutual. We owe him and his family an immense debt of gratitude, and he will be sorely missed.”

Beginning with a $10 gift in 1972, Terasaki donated more than $58 million to UCLA over the past four decades, including $50 million toward the state-of-the-art Terasaki Life Sciences Building and an endowed chair in surgery at the Geffen School

More than $6 million donated by Terasaki went to the UCLA International Institute which, established the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies and endowed faculty chairs in that discipline and in U.S.–Japanese relations.

Terasaki is survived by his wife, their four children, six grandchildren, and a brother. A campus memorial is being planned.

—City News Service

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