Dr. Tom Petty, a pulmonologist and a leader in home oxygen therapy, died on December 12th, 2009 in his home in Denver, Colorado. He was 76 years old.
"Tom was not only a true pioneer in pulmonary medicine and a founding member of the COPD Foundation Board of Directors, he was a good friend to all of us with COPD, John W. Walsh, President of the COPD Foundation says. He has been a true inspiration to us all, and had been courageous in fighting his own battle with COPD. He will be dearly missed, but hes charted the course for us all to follow in order to improve the quality of life with individuals with COPD.
Petty, known as the "father" of home oxygen therapy, was also a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences in Denver and at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Lukes Medical Center in Chicago. He was also a Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.
Pettys groundbreaking work with oxygen therapy and exercise for patients with lung diseases led to his decades-long campaign for pulmonary rehabilitation as a way to improve the health of lung patients.
The Aspen Lung Conference was named after Dr. Petty in 1991 and he was also the organizer and founding President of the Association of Pulmonary Program Directors and has served as President of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Late in life, Petty himself developed lung disease and was a user of medical oxygen. He called himself an "oxy-phile" and used the word in the title of one of his many books. Adventures of an Oxy-Phile was about his experience both as a researcher and user of home oxygen therapy. Petty also made early discoveries involving acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and helped to improve survival rates for ARDS patients. In addition, he was a leader in the usage of spirometry in primary care practitioners. He founded the National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP) which set out to educate health care professionals on spirometry, and promote its use as a common practice to diagnose COPD.
Petty received the University of Colorados Silver and Gold Award for Excellence, the Michigan Thoracic Societys Bruce Douglas Award for Outstanding Contributions to Pulmonary Medicine, and the American Thoracic Societys Distinguished Achievement Award. He was named a fellow of the AARC in 1999, and he received the AARCs Jimmy A. Young Medal in 2003.
The COPD Foundations Board of Directors will establish a memorial fund in Dr. Pettys honor to continue his legacy. For more information on how to donate in memory of Dr. Petty and his work, visit www.copdfoundation.org/help/donate.