A physician who lived across the street from the young John McDonald in Baldwyn, Mississippi inspired him to pursue a career in medicine. McDonald originally thought he would work as a family physician, but a conversation with his mentor, Dr. John Stewart, led him in a different direction. At Stewart’s suggestion, McDonald completed a two-year fellowship in immunology, preparing him for a career in the relatively new field of organ transplantation.

McDonald’s interest in skin allografts, histocompatibility, homotransplantation, and human leukocyte antigen determined the path of his laboratory research. Data from these studies was reported in the scientific literature and at professional meetings. An interest in the creation of organ sharing networks resulted in grants from state and national agencies.     

Over the years, McDonald made significant contributions to organ transplantation and organ sharing, both in the laboratory and in the operating room. His leadership roles in professional organizations, associations, and societies provided an opportunity to disseminate his ideas and findings through lectures and addresses. As his prestige as a scientist, surgeon and leader increased, so did the requests to serve as a visiting professor and invited lecturer.     

His research efforts have resulted in numerous awards and honors. In 1988, he was the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science degree from his alma mater, Mississippi College, “in recognition of his significant achievements in the field of medicine and in appreciation for his notable contributions to medical research.”

 

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