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Published: Jun 18, 2010

By Tampa General Hospital


June 18, 2010 (Tampa, FL) - In 1985, Tampa General became the first hospital in Florida to perform a successful life-saving heart transplant. Since then, more than 900 people have benefited from this procedure at TGH, consistently ranking it as one of the top 5 busiest transplant programs in the nation the last several years and the busiest transplant center in the state of Florida. (In 2009, TGH tied for 4th busiest with the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio and Stanford Hospital, California.) The first patient who received a heart transplant at Tampa General was Thomas Thrasher, a Tampa Bay area businessman on June 6th, 1985 at age 42. Thrasher started the National Organization for Transplant Enlightenment (known as “N.O.T.E.”) in 1986. Originally, he personally funded the association because he saw the need for such an organization. He passed away on May 2, 1996. Mr. Glen “Frank” Spurlin was the 2nd person to receive a heart transplant at TGH on June 21, 1985 at age 43. Before he became ill and was unable to work, he had worked as an industrial engine salesman. Spurlin’s heart became damaged from taking a cancer drug seven years earlier. He lost a leg during his bout with cancer. Now 68, he and his wife Marie, who reside between Franklin, North Carolina and Lakeland, Florida will come back to the hospital for his bi-annual checkup Tuesday morning. The transplant team will gather afterward for cake and well wishes. Mr. Spurlin will be accompanied by his wife of nearly 49 years, Marie ( Anniversary is Sept. 2)…his only surviving son, Dale Spurlin & wife Dixie and their four children from Leavenworth, Kansas – who are in town to celebrate Father’s Day. Last August, the world's longest survivor of a single transplanted heart died after 31 years with his transplanted heart. FACTS Over 108,000 Americans, more than 3,100 living in Florida, are awaiting life-saving transplants. The list grows by about 300 people each month.

  • One organ and tissue donor can potentially benefit 50 or more people
  • About 6,000 of those people will die this year while waiting
  • Signing up to be an organ donor is easy by going on line at: http://www.donatelifeflorida.org/

Source: UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) - unos.org