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Inventor artificial kidney Kolff receives his 13th Honorary Doctorate

Honoured at N.Y. State University

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

NEW YORK - Dutch American physician and inventor, Dr. Willem Johan Kolff (95) who developed the world’s first kidney dialysis machine, received a Honorary Doctorate from the State University of New York recently. The degree is Kolff’ thirteenth such recognition for his pioneering work, received, both in the Netherlands and his adoptive U.S.A.

The first artificial kidney or dialysis machine was developed by Kolff and his staff at the Kampen, the Netherlands hospital in 1943. After his emigration to the U.S., Kolff also developed the first heart-lung machine (in 1956) and a year later, the first artificial heart. Based on Kolff’s principles, Dr. Robert Jarvik later designed an implantable artificial heart. In 1982, Seattle dentist Dr. Barney Clark was the first person implanted with the Jarvik-7, by a team led by surgeon William DeVries.

Kolff received the Honourary Degree at a ceremony in the Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. He also holds a similar honour from the Dutch Twente University which was bestowed upon him in 1986. The spry Dutch immigrant, who in 1946 received his doctorate from the University of Groningen, is the recipient of well over 120 international awards, among which the prestigious Lasker Award in 2002. In 1950, Kolff emigrated and moved to Cleveland, Ohio to become Professor of Clinical Research at the University of Ohio.