Dr. Willem Johan (Pim) Kolff, one of the most prolific inventors of new medical devices, has passed away at age 97 in Philadelphia. Dr Kolff led a long and productive life, and through his genius he saved and greatly improved the lives of thousands of others. From external dialysis machines to the CardioWest artificial heart, Dr Kolff was one of the revolutionaries that successfully introduced practical devices to the medical world.
The Telegraph on the life and achievements of Dr. Kolff:
As a young physician in the Dutch city of Groningen before the war, Kolff had witnessed the death of a 22-year-old man from kidney failure. It was a miserable, painful end and Kolff had to tell the man’s mother, who was dressed “in a black dress and a little white cap like the farm women have,” that her only son was going to die and that there was nothing he could do. It struck him that if only he could somehow have removed the urea that the patient was creating, then he might have had a chance.
The man died, but Kolff immediately devoted himself to research, though it was only in 1941, by which time the Netherlands was under German occupation, that he succeeded in developing a prototype machine. Materials were in short supply and much of what was available was commandeered by the Germans. None the less Kolff set to work, begging and borrowing from a local factory, salvaging a cooling system from an old Ford car and metal pieces from a downed German fighter plane.
Read on from The Telegraph…
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