Artificial-organs pioneer Willem J. Kolff is scheduled to receive two international awards in April for contributions to medicine, patient care and scientific technology.
Kolff, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Utah and developer of the artificial heart and kidney, will accept the Edwin Cohn-De Laval Award from the World Apheresis Association at its Third International Congress April 9-12 in Amsterdam.Kolff, 79, is the first recipient of the award, which recognizes his contributions to research and application of haemapheresis, or the separation of blood cells from surrounding plasma.
From there, Kolff will travel to Leiden, The Netherlands, on April 17-18 where the Federation of Scientific Medical Associations will present him with its international Federa Prize. The meeting draws representatives from 37 associations, whose combined membership totals almost 150,000 members.
He is regarded as a pioneering physician, scientist, engineer and teacher who helped prove artificial organs can substitute for failing human organs. Officials estimate his discoveries have helped restore a semblance of normal life to millions who suffer from kidney and heart disease.
Some of his inventions include the first clinically useful rotating drum artificial kidney in 1941, the first membrane oxygenator for clinical use in 1955, and intra-aortic balloon pumping in 1961.
Kolff is most widely known, however, for his work on the totally implantable artificial heart. That research culminated in the first permanent implant of the compressed-air powered device in 1982 in Seattle dentist Dr. Barney Clark.