Former Park River man, pioneer in dialysis treatment, dies in ArizonaDr. Thomas Marr, former Park River resident and pioneering physician in the field of kidney dialysis, died Feb. 21 at a care center in Chandler, Ariz. He was 84.
By: Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald
Dr. Thomas Marr, former Park River resident and pioneering physician in the field of kidney dialysis, died Feb. 21 at a care center in Chandler, Ariz. He was 84.
Marr and colleagues in Spokane, Wash., opened the first U.S. dialysis center outside of a research setting that treated chronic kidney disease at a time when such diseases were often death sentences.
He started the Kidney Dialysis Center at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane in 1961. A year later, he and Drs. Loren Gothberg and Richard Steury opened the Artificial Kidney Center in the hospital where they worked in the emerging field of peritoneal dialysis, a method of cleansing the blood when diseased kidneys cannot.
Initially the center had four beds and treated patients primarily with acute kidney failure.
In 1965, the center’s personnel began to provide care to patients with acute and chronic kidney failure. They taught eligible patients to perform dialysis at home.
By the 1980s, more than 95 percent of the Spokane Kidney Center’s 145 patients were on home dialysis, significantly reducing health care costs and increasing personal independence. The national rate at the time was roughly the reverse, about 90 percent of patients received dialysis in medical settings and 10 percent at home.
Marr retired in 1996.
He was born in Grafton on April 18, 1927, and raised by his parents, Arthur and Vivian Meagher in Park River. He was salutatorian of the Class of 1945 of Walsh County Agricultural School, then Park River’s high school. He was one of the school’s first basketball players to be named first team All-State.
After serving in the U.S. Navy for two years, he attended the University of Minnesota where he earned his medical degree in 1953. He took internship training at Harborview medical center and fellowship training at the VA Hospital, both in Seattle.
When he began his medical career he changed the spelling of his name to Marr because people often mispronounced Meagher.
He married Ardis Graham. In 1959, the family moved to Spokane where he began his internal medicine practice at Rockwood Clinic. Ardis passed away, and, in 1997, he married Sue Ann DeSmeth.
Marr is survived by his wife; sons Stephen (Cyndi) Marr and Michael (Sharon) Marr, and daughters Theresa Marr (Dan) Gusregan; Judy Marr-Gusky (Paul), Katie Marr and Mary Marr (Mark) Lenz; 13 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife; and sisters, Katherine Meagher and Mary Jean Meagher Grossinger.
A funeral mass will be held at a later date at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Spokane. A private burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery. Donations may be made to Hospice of Spokane or Sisters of the Holy Names.
Reach Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.