Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Yurii Voronoy, Ukrainian kidney transplant pioneer

Yurii Voronoy. From Matevosian E et al, p. 1133.

Yurii Yurijevich Voronoy was born in 1896 in a village in the region of Poltava in Ukraine, where his father was a professor of mathematics. In World War I Voronoy was a volunteer corpsman in the Ukrainian contingent, and after the war he studied medicine in Kyiv. He then joined the department of surgery in Kharkov, where he found the chief interested in cadaveric blood transfusion and testicular transplantation. Promoted to Kherson in 1931, he continued in this line by performing in 1933 the first human allograft kidney transplantation. During World War II he worked as a surgeon treating the wounded. Between 1953 and 1961 he was associate director of the Institute of Transfusion and Hematology in Kyiv, where he died in 1961 of coronary heart disease.

At the time when Voronoy carried out his kidney transplant, no immunosuppressive drugs were available, and transplanted organs were promptly rejected. His first patient was a 26-year-old woman who taken four grams of mercury chloride and developed acute renal failure. She received a kidney from a sixty-year-old man who had died from a basal skull fracture. The surgery was done under local anesthesia, the renal vessels were anastomosed according to the method of Carrel, and the ureter was brought to the surface through an opening in the thigh. Little urine was produced, and the patient died 48 hours after the surgery. Voronoy performed five further kidney transplants, but none were successful. He regarded the procedure not as a final solution, but as a bridging therapy until the kidneys would recover and function again.

Further reading

Matevosian E et al. Surgeon Yurii Voronoy (1895-1981- A pioneer in the history of clinical transplantation. Transplant International 2009;22:1139.

GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief

Highlighted Vignette Volume 16, Issue 1 – Winter 2024

Summer 2023



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