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[November 30, 2007]

Dr. Irving Kroop Discusses America’s First Hemodialysis


Dr. Irving Kroop was warmly greeted when he visited SUNY Downstate Medical Center in late November to present the guest lecture at Renal Grand Rounds, a gathering of physicians and medical students who learn by hearing case histories. Few are as captivating as Dr. Kroop’s account of the first successful hemodialysis in the United States, which he performed in 1947 using a novel invention—the dialyser. Hemodialysis is now used the world over and has saved the lives of countless millions.

Introduced by Dr. Eli Friedman, chief of the Division of Renal Disease, as “someone who changed the world,” Dr. Kroop quipped, “I don’t believe you’re aware that you are changing history.” The unassuming doctor is indifferent about his place in medical history, but his colleagues recognize his accomplishment as a medical milestone.

Dr. Dale Distant, chief of the Division of Transplantation at SUNY Downstate, perhaps stated it most succinctly: “Men act, but history makes the judgment.” In typically modest fashion, Dr. Kroop replied, “You just have to live long enough.”

Even at 92, the doctor is still healthy and active. Dr. Kroop is a clinical professor of medicine at SUNY Downstate and a consulting physician in cardiology at Maimonides Medical Center.