In Great Memory of Dr. William Merritt:
Dr. William Merritt, our long-time friend and colleague, passed away on September 30, 2023. His passing was unexpected, although he was recovering from a complicated spine surgery. He is survived by his beloved wife (Alicia), devoted three children (William in cancer research, Ryan, a Chesapeake Bay Pilot, and Caitlin in historic preservation), loving four grandchildren, and former spouse Helen. We, on behalf of the ILTS, express our sincere condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.
He was a fully trained pediatrician at the University of Maryland and served in the US Navy as a medical officer for two years studying childhood schistosomiasis. He stationed in Germany during this period and became a sailing enthusiast. He completed anesthesiology residency and fellowship training in 1985 at Johns Hopkins and became the Director of Liver Transplantation Anesthesiology group in 1986. He was promoted to associate professor of anesthesiology and surgery in 1994 and has been a faculty member of Johns Hopkins until 2023. He had been academically very productive with 40 peer reviewed original articles and more than 30 book chapters.
Our friendship with Dr. Merritt began in 1985. He visited the University of Pittsburgh twice (1985 and 1986) to observe our liver transplantation practice. He was a sincere, mature, motivated, and intelligent young anesthesiologist, and we developed a great personal and professional relationship. He attended the Pittsburgh Symposium of Liver Transplantation Anesthesiology, the precursor of the ILTS, in 1986 and 1988. In 1988, a Council meeting was held to discuss whether it was time to change the symposium to an international society. Dr. Merritt was a very strong supporter of the new society and volunteered to become the secretary and treasurer of the International Society for Perioperative Care in Liver Transplantation.
Dr. Merritt played a key role in the transformation of this society to the International Liver Transplantation Society: he was an enthusiastic proponent of making the society truly multidisciplinary. He arranged a Council meeting at the St. Francis Yacht Club, San Francisco, to lay the foundation of the ILTS. This was followed by another Council meeting at Williamsburg, Virginia, and the preliminary Bylaws of the ILTS were formulated. He continued to fulfill the duties of secretary/treasurer for nine years until 1997 and successfully incorporated the ILTS as a non-profit organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1992. Dr. Merritt sent us a letter in 1995 indicating that the ILTS had $96,000. He said that the ILTS did not represent a fortune 500 enterprise, but we were quite solvent. It was a remarkable achievement considering the ILTS was founded with a mere $5,000. He became the 5th President of the ILTS in 1999 and carried out the objectives and spirit of the founding members of the ILTS.
Another of Dr. Merritt’s major contributions to the ILTS was developing the Symposium on Liver Transplantation Anesthesia held at the annual Congress of American Society of Anesthesiologists in 1994. It was a one-day meeting of presentations and discussions of clinical and scientific issues relevant to liver transplantation anesthesiology and perioperative care. He tirelessly organized this meeting every year for the following 20 years until he delegated the duty to his younger colleagues. He could not come to the meeting of 2023 at San Francisco due to his health issues, but he really wanted to attend the 2024 meeting to be held in Philadelphia to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the symposium.
Dr. Merritt has done everything humanly possible to lay a solid foundation and to facilitate the progressive growth of the ILTS. He is a true hero of the ILTS. Although we cannot meet him physically, we would like to say, “Thanks Bill. Job superbly done. You will be always with us.”
-Yoogoo Kang, M.D. & Andre M. De Wolf, M.D
Emeritus Professor Emeritus Professor
Thomas Jefferson Northwestern University