Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Nephrology

  • The eponymous tumors of the kidney: Wilms and Grawitz

    In a time when diseases were often named after the first person to describe them, kidney tumors were classified into Wilms tumors for children and Grawitz tumors for adults. Both names supposedly honored the memory of these pioneers, and unlucky candidates sitting for medical examinations were sometimes expected to know who these people were. Max…

  • History of ectopic kidney

    Mostafa ElbabaDoha, Qatar “There are many errors in the development of the kidneys which are of great surgical and pathologic interest. Most of these errors are easily explainable by the remarkable evolutions which attend the development of the urinary apparatus. If anyone doubts the utility of a careful study of this subject, let him contemplate…

  • History of sodium in medicine

    Mostafa ElbabaDoha, Qatar In humans, sodium controls the balance of fluids in the body and the absorption of nutrients in the alimentary tract. Sodium is also involved in nerve impulse transmission and cell membrane electrical activity. Significant changes in the sodium level prevent cells from carrying out those physiological functions, disrupting what is known as…

  • Renal reminiscences

    Medical conferences are an opportunity to travel and to meet. During the early days when renal transplantation, dialysis, and biopsy revolutionized nephrology, I had the opportunity to meet many members of the new discipline. I once listened to Jean Hamburger lecture about kidney transplants. I heard Robert Schrier lecture on salt and water. One summer…

  • The discovery of urea and the end of vitalism

    Mostafa ElbabaDoha, Qatar In history, ancient chemistry is known as “alchemy.” It is different than modern chemistry since it was mixed with philosophy and pseudoscience, although it is considered a protoscience. Alchemy failed to explain the nature of matter and its transformations. However, by experimentation and recording the results, alchemists set the stage for modern…

  • Frank Parsons—A hemodialysis pioneer

    Eric WillUnited Kingdom “Disillusion can become itself an illusion if we rest in it.”— TS Eliot Frank Maudsley Parsons (1915–1989) was an English pioneer of hemodialysis in the mid-1950s. His contribution is well known to nephrologists, but came at a personal cost in recognition that he expressed in his published journal affiliations. Context Leeds General…

  • When it rains, it pours

    Giulio NicitaFlorence, Italy 1983 Giuseppe’s shouts and laughter echoed in the long corridor as he ran after the ball, kicking it toward his mother with his slippered foot. Attracted by the noise, but silently sliding along the polished floor, the austere figure of Sister Leonia appeared, her face surrounded by her veil. With a smile…

  • Dr. Jochem Hoyer’s singular act of altruism

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”— Martin Luther King, Jr. Kidney transplantation is the preferred form of treatment for chronic, permanent renal failure. Transplanted patients have better long-term survival than patients receiving repeated hemodialysis. There is, unfortunately, a shortage of usable kidneys worldwide. In the…

  • Sir George Pickering and the low salt diet

    Nicolas Roberto RoblesBadajoz, Spain As a young man George Pickering was interested in his native Northumbrian countryside and intended to study agriculture. Persuaded later to read for a degree in biochemistry or physiology, he obtained a scholarship in basic sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge, then decided to study medicine. He went to St. Thomas’s Hospital…

  • Sympathectomy for hypertension

    Sympathectomy for essential hypertension was introduced in the late 1920s at a time when no effective medical treatment was available. It consisted of resecting several sympathetic neurons that exit the spinal cord from the mid to lower spinal cord and are arranged in two columns of nodules called ganglia on either side of it. Sympathetic…