Tag Archives: nephrology

Saul Bellow visits a dialysis unit

The Dean’s December, published in 1982, is a highly autobiographical book written by Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow.1 It is about the experiences of a university Dean and is divided into two episodes.2 The first takes place in Bucharest, where the Dean visits his mother-in-law, once a prominent but now politically disgraced party member lying […]

Nils Alwall – one of the founding fathers of nephrology

Mårten Segelmark Lund, Sweden   Figure 1. Nils Alwall in 1965 with one of the first long-time survivors. (Picture archive of the South Swedish Society for History of Medicine) More than two million people suffering from kidney failure are currently being kept alive by dialysis. But when Nils Alwall was a young doctor eighty years […]

Scarred for life

Shanda McCutcheon Calgary, Alberta, Canada   Three Months Post Donation, Michael, his wife Rebecca and their two youngest children with Shanda (far right) Source: Personal photograph of author Most mornings I wake and it does not seem like it happened at all. Still half asleep, I step under the cascading waters of a warm shower […]

Korotkov’s Sound

Joseph deBettencourt Chicago, Illinois, United States     A portrait of Nikolai Sergeevich Korotkov I’m watching, knees bending, Looking meek, my heart quiet, Drifting away are the shadows Of fussy world affairs While I’m envisioning, dreaming of voices from other worlds -Aleksandr Blok, untitled poem, July 3, 1901a   Stepping off the train in northern […]

Sir William Gull, polymath and pioneer physician

William Gull (1816-1890) is remembered by nephrologists as one of the prominent Guy’s Hospital physicians who worked to extend the seminal observations first made by Richard Bright. These investigators worked at a time when blood measurements were not available in clinical medicine and the role of hypertension in causing disease was not appreciated. They tried […]

History of nephrology vignettes

Hippocrates: “Those whose urine is merely blood-stained have suffered in the veins. When urine is thick, and there are passed with it small pieces of flesh like hair, you must know that these symptoms result from the kidneys and arthritic complaints.” Bubbles appearing on the surface of the urine indicate disease of the kidneys and […]

High blood pressure and the kidney: the forgotten contribution of William Senhouse Kirkes

Excerpt from: “High blood pressure and the kidney: The forgotten contribution of William Senhouse Kirkes” by J. Stewart Cameron and Jackie Hicks The realization of the key role for raised intra-arterial pressure as a pathogenetic agent in hypertension is usually credited to Ludwig Traube.  But Traube in his writings gives credit for the idea to a […]

Pierre Rayer (1793- 1867) – first to use microscopy to study kidney disease

Pierre Rayer occupies a special place in the history of nephrology for his attempt to classify the various diseases that Richard Bright had described in his monumental publication of 1827. With his intern Eugene Napoleon Vigla, he revolutionized the study of kidney diseases by using microscopy to analyze urinary sediments, describing crystals, cells, casts, and […]

A fatal and mysterious illness

Michael D. Shulman Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   In late 1972, a flurry of letters began to appear in the British medical journal The Lancet which captured the alarm, the bafflement, and the intense professional curiosity aroused by a mysterious new illness. The illness was unique to patients receiving hemodialysis, typically those who had been […]

Mrs. M’s refusal

Ladan Golestaneh Bronx, New York, United States   My role as a physician includes foregoing a prescriptive approach to some patients in favor of a supportive one. Yielding to a belief system that does not fit the structure of my many years of training feels like a personal failure. But sometimes I know I have […]