Willem J. Kolff

February 14th

Born 14 Feb 1911; died 11 Feb 2009 at age 97.

Willem Johann Colf was a Dutch-American doctor and biomedical engineer who was a pioneer in artificial organs. In 1943 he invented the

artificial kidney machine  before immigrating to the United States (1950). In the spring of 1955, the American Society of Artificial

Organs was established. Corfu became the first president. He led a team  tested on December 12, 1957, inventing the pneumatic pump, the first fully artificial heart implanted in a dog’s chest. It kept a 20.7 kg dog alive for 90 minutes. This was the first time an animal had completely transplanted an  artificial heart to survive. By December 2, 1982,  the first fully artificial heart had been transplanted into a human patient under his supervision. It was developed by Corfu student Robert K. Jarvik. He transplanted an artificial heart that allowed the patient Barney Clark to survive for 112 days, demonstrating the feasibility of such a procedure.

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