In 1983, Dr. Folkert Belzer, Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin, had the great foresight to offer a faculty position to a young Turkish surgeon, Dr. Munci Kalayoglu, then a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Kalayoglu accepted Dr. Belzer’s offer to join the UW surgery faculty as a pediatric surgeon and to establish a liver transplant program to complement the UW’s kidney and pancreas transplant programs.
Dr. Kalayoglu spent months preparing UW Hospital to become a liver transplant center, and performed the first liver transplant at the University of Wisconsin in July 1984. Since that time, he has built the UW program into one of the finest liver transplant programs in the country. He performed the UW’s 1,000th liver transplant on July 21, 2001.
Dr. Kalayoglu was born in 1940 in Ankara, Turkey. He received his M.D. from Ankara University Medical School in Ankara, Turkey, in 1963, and served his general surgery residency at Hacettepe University Medical School in Ankara from 1963 1967. He came to the United States to complete a surgical internship at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City from 1967-1968 and a pediatric surgery residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh from 1968-1971. Following this, he joined the faculty of Hacettepe University Medical School in Ankara, becoming a full Professor of Surgery in 1977.
In 1981 Dr. Kalayoglu developed an interest in the emerging field of liver transplantation. That year, he returned to the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting professor of surgery to study liver transplantation at the world’s premier liver transplant center under Dr. Thomas Starzl, the pioneer of liver transplantation. After two years of intense training in Pittsburgh, Dr. Kalayoglu accepted Dr. Belzer’s offer to initiate a liver transplant program at the University of Wisconsin and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Before performing the first liver transplant at the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Kalayoglu performed the first and only separation of conjoined twins in Wisconsin. After starting the UW liver transplant program, Dr. Kalayoglu went on to perform Wisconsin’s first reduced-size liver transplant, first liver-intestinal transplant, first cluster transplant, first split liver transplant, and first adult-to-adult living donor liver transplant. He also performed the state’s first pediatric liver transplant and transplanted the state’s smallest liver transplant recipient. In addition, he was the first to report on the use of Belzer UW organ preservation solution in clinical liver transplantation.
The most important people in Dr. Kalayoglu’s life are his family- his wife Belkis and their two sons, Murat, a resident in Ophthalmology at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, Massachusetts, and Sinan, a junior in political science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Over the years they have patiently endured the cancellation and shortening of many vacations and other plans due to his career. They have always been supportive of him, and have shared in his work’s joys and sorrows. Prof. Dr. Munci Kalayoglu, leaving his position as the Director of Liver Transplantation Program at University of Wisconsin, joined Memorial Hospital in Istanbul in 2006 as the head of Organ Transplantation and General Surgery Department.
He is the member of several editorial boards and has published 22 books, 196 peer-reviewed publications.
Professional Organizations: Fellow, American College of Surgeons; Fellow, International College of Surgeons. American Society of Transplant Surgeons, Central Surgical Association, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases; International Transplantation Society, Association of Turkish-American Scientists, International Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association, Wisconsin Surgical Society, Madison Surgical Society.
Honors and Awards: 1989 Sedat Simavi Saglik Bilimleri Odulu; 1991 Nokta Man of the Year in Medical Sciences, Istanbul, Turkey; Tubitak 1993 Yili Bilim Odulu; UW Surgery Faculty Teaching Award, 1994; Honorary Doctorate, Orta Dogu Teknik Universitesi, 1994; UW Surgery Faculty Teaching Award, 1995; President, Madison Surgical Society, 1995-1996; The 20th Century International Dr. Behcet Uz Medical Achievement Award, presented by Mr. Suleyman Demirel, President of Turkey, 1999; Recipient, First Turkish Medical Honor Award, 2002.