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SUNY Downstate Medical Center

Division of Transplantation

Downstate Pioneers

Samuel Kountz, MD, Founder of the Downstate Transplant Program

photo of Samuel Kount, MD

Dr. Kountz, the country's first African American transplant surgeon, founded the Downstate kidney transplant program in 1972 and pioneered advances in kidney transplantation which are still in practice. Dr. Kountz proved the efficacy of the drug methylprednisolone, still widely used in reversing acute rejection of transplanted kidneys. Dr. Kountz also pioneered tissue typing, which led to the increased use of kidneys from living unrelated and deceased donors. The Downstate Transplant Unit is dedicated to Dr. Kountz.


Robert Furchcott, MD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus

photo of Robert F. Furchgott, MDDr. Furchott was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1998. Dr. Furchcott is a strong advocate of kidney transplantation and says of Dr. Kountz "He was a true pioneer in the science of transplantation. As Chairman of the Department of Surgery, and the first expert in kidney transplantation, he dramatically improved the success of kidney transplantation. The UHB Transplantation Division has remained at the forefront of modern techniques in kidney transplantation."



Willem J. Kolf, MD, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine

photo of Willwm Kolf, MD

Dr. Kolf invented the hemodialysis machine during World War II and was an early advocate of kidney transplantation. In addition to prolonging the lives of millions of people who benefited from dialysis, Dr. Kolf was among the first to participate in a series of kidney transplants as early as 1943. He remained a strong believer in kidney transplantation and according to Dr. Kolf, "We have two kidneys so we can give one away".


Eli Friedman, MD, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Medicine

photo of Eli Friedman, MDDr. Friedman is a graduate of the Downstate College of Medicine who has been on the faculty since 1963. Dr. Friedman was instrumental in creating the first federally funded dialysis unit in 1964 and developing hemodialysis as a life saving measure (the first dialysis machine is pictured above). Dr. Friedman is an internationally recognized leader in the field of renal medicine and is an active member of the Downstate transplant team.