In Memoriam: Mark Deierhoi, MD

Monday, June 8, 2020

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Mark Deierhoi, M.D., a stalwart in the rich history of transplantation of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the state of Alabama, died Thursday, June 4, at his home in Birmingham. He was 68 years old.

“It is with a heavy heart that we must inform you of the passing of a cherished member of our UAB Surgery and Comprehensive Transplant Institute family, Dr. Mark Deierhoi,” wrote Herbert Chen, M.D., chair of UAB’s Department of Surgery, and Jayme Locke, M.D., chief of UAB’s Division of Transplantation and director of the UAB’s Comprehensive Transplant Institute, in a letter to faculty and staff. “His superb technical skills in the OR, compassion for patients and enthusiasm for resident training allowed him to touch the lives of many, reminding us that one person has the capability to positively impact countless individuals and communities.”
Deierhoi joined UAB in 1986 and primarily served in the kidney transplant program. He performed roughly 2,500 kidney transplants at UAB over the course of his 34-year career and left an indelible mark on practitioners, surgeons, transplanters, trainees and patients across the globe. 
The compassion and understanding shared with his patients was not lost among his trainees.

Deierhoi has been described as a wonderful educator, mentor and role model, and his residents admired his patient nature and commitment to teaching. In fact, in 2017, UAB general surgical residents honored Deierhoi with the Kirby I. Bland Surgical Faculty Teacher of the Year award.

“That the residents wanted to honor me, honor someone who worked with them when they were just starting out: I really appreciate that a lot,” Deierhoi said. “I appreciate the fact that they thought of me after all of this time removed from their rotation. It’s an honor that the residents think well of my efforts to train them. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy doing.”

Walking into a room, Deierhoi brought with him a sense of calmness and strength that was felt by those around him. 
“Mark’s colleagues remember that although he was a transplant and medicine giant, he carried his greatness humbly,” said Locke, who is the Mark H. Deierhoi Endowed Professor at UAB and the director of the Comprehensive Transplant Institute. “His approachable nature made him a pivotal mentor for many during his career. All who knew him experienced his gentle, caring personality that made it easy for him to get along with just about anyone. His thoughtfulness, patience and empathy are not easily forgotten.”

Deierhoi was a graduate of the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in 1976 and served widely in his field, most notably with the Southeastern Organ Procurement Foundation assuming numerous committee and leadership roles with the foundation including presiding in 2003. Deierhoi has also been a long-time member of the Southern Surgical Association, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the American Society of Transplantation, and The Transplantation Society.

Deierhoi is survived by his wife, Gwen, and his children Rhiannon Deierhoi Reed, DrPH, an assistant professor of transplantation at UAB, Lauren Falin and Tyler Deierhoi.