William Stubenbord

William Tennant Stubenbord, MD, Pioneering Surgeon Whose Research in Organ Preservation Led to First Soviet-US Kidney Transplant, Dies at 86.

Dr. William (Bill) Tennant Stubenbord, a pre-eminent transplant surgeon and clinical researcher, died on September 18, 2022, in Essex, CT. Dr. Stubenbord gained international attention at the height of the Cold War by enabling the preservation and transplantation of a donor kidney from Russia to a patient in the United States. His clinical experience and research in hypothermic pulsatile perfusion in the 1970s improved organ grafts for renal transplantation as well as survival rates for transplanted patients. In February 1977, one of the kidneys of a 16- year-old who died in a motor vehicle collision in Moscow was flown to JFK and placed on Dr. Stubenbord’s hypothermic pulsatile perfusion device at New York-Presby- terian Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Stubenbord successfully transplanted the kidney into the body of a Brooklyn man. The transplant was featured on the front page of The New York Times as well magazines and newspapers across the globe. William Tennant Stubenbord was born on July 4, 1936 in New York City to physician William D. Stubenbord and his wife Jean Tennant Stubenbord.

Bill Stubenbord graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, MA in 1954 and attended Yale University where he graduated in 1958. At Yale, he was a member of the men’s lightweight crew. Following Yale, he attended Weill Cornell Medical College, graduating in 1962. He completed his residency at New York-Presby- terian Weill Cornell Medical Center and spent the majority of his 43-year career as a transplant surgeon and clinical researcher there. He was the long-time surgical director of the Rogosin Institute Transplantation Center as well as a professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Stubenbord became chief of the Division of Transplantation in the Department of Surgery in 1996 and served as chairperson of the Department of Surgery at Weill Cornell from 2002-2004. Stubenbord was a caring and dedicated physician who devoted himself to his patients as well as the teaching young physicians. In 1992, he was selected as the Weill Cornell Medical College’s Faculty Teacher of the Year. Upon his retirement in 2004, the annual “William T. Stubenbord, MD Resident Award” was established for resident physicians who most embody the characteristics of Dr. Stubenbord – “a gifted surgeon, remarkable teacher, and compassionate physician.”

He is survived by his beloved wife of 59 years Jane MacDougall Stubenbord of Essex, CT; his treasured daughters Elizabeth Jane Stubenbord of Forest Hills, NY, and Pamela Tennant Stubenbord of Westbrook, CT, and his beloved granddaughter Aliya. He was preceded in death by his sister Jane Stubenbord Winans. Stubenbord was a man of faith his entire life and a member of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. He also served his country for two years as Major in the United States Army. He was an avid sailor, beginning with his early years at Point O’ Woods on Fire Island, and spent many years sailing on Long Island Sound. He was a fifty-year member of the Larchmont Yacht Club where he made lifelong sailing friends. Bill was a devoted and caring husband and father and discovered the immense joy of being a grandfather to Aliya.

Published by New York Times on Sep. 21, 2022.