‘Father of Artificial Organs’ dies at 97. Three days before his birthday February 14, 1911 — Valentines.

Dr. Willem KolffWhile waiting for Adam on Valentines Day at Cafe 101, I picked up a copy of the LA Times. For some reason that day, I was drawn to the Obituaries section first (rather than the comics section of course) and stumbled upon this inspiring article 

Kolff is arguably credited for the first artificial heart as is Paul Winchell. Nonetheless — ‘Great Minds’.

Kolff, known as the ‘father of artificial organs,’ is credited with building the first successful artificial heart, the Jarvik-7, and established the first blood bank in Europe.


By Thomas H. Maugh II

February 14, 2009

Dr. Willem Kolff, the Dutch physician and tinkerer who built the first kidney dialysis machine from cellophane, Ford auto parts and other scraps and in the process saved the lives of millions, died from natural causes Wednesday at a Philadelphia care center. The “father of artificial organs,” who also built the first successful artificial heart, was 97.

“Dr. Kolff was a pioneer in the truest sense of the word,” said Michael K. Young, president of the University of Utah, where Kolff concluded his career. “His groundbreaking work on the artificial kidney in the 1940s made him a household name and a hero to millions of people around the world who benefited from this life-saving technology.”

Willem Johan Kolff was born in Leiden, the Netherlands, on Feb. 14, 1911, the son of a doctor. Although his childhood goal was to become the director of a zoo, his father convinced him to study medicine instead, and he received his degree from Leiden University in 1938.

He was a staff physician at the University of Groningen in 1940 when Germany invaded the Netherlands. After the Jewish hospital director was replaced with a Nazi sympathizer, Kolff moved to a small hospital in Kampen, on the Zuider Zee, where he sat out the war.

Kolff aided the local resistance movement, providing medical “alibis” to help many escape detection. When the Germans attempted to take in one local resistance leader for questioning, Kolff withdrew two pints of blood from the man’s arm and had him drink it. Laboratory tests then showed that the man was anemic and had copious blood in his stool — signs of a severe ulcer.

The Germans did not question him because they assumed he would die shortly.

When the Germans invaded on May 19, 1940, Kolff happened to be at The Hague for a funeral. When he saw the German bombers, he excused himself from the ceremony and went to the city’s main hospital, where he volunteered to set up a blood bank.

With an armed escort, he drove through the city streets, dodging bombs and snipers and collecting bottles, tubing and all the other paraphernalia needed for storing blood. Within four days, he had established the first blood bank in Europe. It is still operating today.

FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-willem-kolff14-2009feb14,0,5182029.story

From the Los Angeles Times

Astronauts, the Moon, and Disney: “That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”

Two of my most vivid and favorite dreams I’ve ever had are #1 I was 5 years old and found myself walking on the moon with 3 astronauts. 

My mom had sent my sister and I to Linda’s house in Walnut, CA. Linda and Joe were my parents best friends. 

 I remember my conversation with the astronauts who mainly spoke. I don’t recall what I said only that I was holding one of their hands, just before I woke up. 

I have always wanted to have that dream again and to this day has formed an obsession with the moon and everything outerspace.

 Convinced that I had literally been to the moon, I ran upstairs and found Linda on the sofa watching TV. Ecstatic, doesn’t even begin to describe it. Linda calmed me down, she cradled me on the sofa with her as I explained my dream in detail that night until I finally went back to sleep. Linda passed away several years later from cancer. I love that memory of her. 


My second favorite dream was with that of Mr. Walt Disney. 

I’ve luckily had 2 vivid dreams of meeting him and having a conversation in one I recall him saying “Never lose your imagination”.

 I had to have been about 10 years old at the time and the second was most recently about a year ago. Tonight for some reason “Feed The Birds”, once again popped into my head (and usually it’s Bad Brains and The Misfits popping in my head — really…). Aside from my all time favorite childrens stories, Peter Pan, The Sword In The Stone, and of course Mary Poppins they will always be my favorite. I wasn’t aware until tonight that my favorite Disney film song was also, Walt Disney’s.

[Rarely was anyone able to get Walt to talk about his “favorite” film, song, Disneyland attraction and so on. But in the case of “Mary Poppins,” he had a clear favorite: “Feed the Birds.” His affection for that song led to a kind of ritual about which Richard Sherman loves telling: 
“When we were reading various stories written by Ms. Travers, we came across the bird woman selling bread crumbs, who said, ‘Feed the birds – tuppence a bag.’ And we said to each other, ‘That’s the metaphor for the whole film.’ A little extra bit of kindness – it doesn’t take much. After all a tuppence is no money at all. There’s a great statement there that describes the whole picture. 

“Mary Poppins teaches the family how to stick together and do things for each other. 

I think that’s why Walt loved the song. It has to do with being kind and loving. It’s what his life was all about, really. 

“Usually, after the hectic week, Walt would ask us how we were doing, and we’d tell him what we were working on.Then he’d ask us to play it and I’d sit down and play and he’d look out the north window and get wistful.

“Then he’d turn around and say, ‘That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Well, have a good weekend boys.‘ I love that memory.” ]

YouTube – Feed The Birds – Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews).

He just got it. 

I will now go back to listening to the Buzzcocks and Bad Brains until maybe Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious dances into my brain.