Kolff, Willem

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Kolff, Willem Gender: M
Willem Johan Kolff
born on 14 February 1911 at 14:15 (= 2:15 PM )
Place Leiden, Netherlands, 52n10, 4e30
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Astrodienst
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 24°46' s_mo.18.gif s_vircol.18.gif 09°17 Asc.s_cancol.18.gif 24°49'

File:Willem Johan Kolff.jpg
Willem Kolff
photo: KNAW, license cc-by-3.0


Dutch-American physician and inventor, a pioneer of hemodialysis and the development of artificial organs.

"Pim" Kolff was the eldest son in a family of five boys. His father Jacob Kolff (19 March 1883, Middelharnis, 4 Oct. 1948, Beekbergen) was a general practitioner in Leiden. Later he became director of the tuberculosis Sanatorium in Beekbergen. His mother was Adriana Pieternella de Jonge (12 Sept 1886. Muiderberg - 12 Feb. 1981, Apeldoorn).

Kolff studied medicine in Leiden (-1938). In May 1940 he established the first bloodbank on mainland Europe in five days time in the Zuidwal Hospital in The Hague, during the nazi-attack on Holland. In Groningen, when studying internal medicine under prof. Leo Polak Daniëls, he witnessed the painful death of a young man from acute kidney failure. This stimulated his interest in artificial-organ development.

In the night of 14/15 May 1940 his Jewish mentor prof. Leo Polak Daniëls (31 March 1872, Den Haag) and his spouse Catharina took their lives in Den Haag. That day Rotterdam was bombarded. Kolff was shocked. In 1941 Kolf decided to leave the University of Groningen, that became more and more under control of NSB and Nazi Party members. He went to the small city hospital in Kampen (1 July 1941), where he started his pioneering work to fabricate an artificial kidney under difficult (War Time) circumstances. The water pump needed to make the machine, was derived from a T-Ford, the bio-membranes came from a local butcher.

In 1942 he developed the first artificial kidney. The original device, became the prototype for the contemporary hemodialysis machine. It was first used on 17 March 1943, but without success. On 11 September 1945, after 16 failures, he first managed to save a patients life by hemodialysis in Kampen. Her name was Maria Sofia Schafstadt, a Nazi sympathizer, but Kolff was glad to save her life. Her first words after awakening from caused by kidney failure coma were: "I am going to divorce my husband" (video).

During World War II, Kolff actively resisted the occupation. He hid more than 800 persons in his hospital to save them from the forced labour and the camps of Nazis. When ships with prisoners passed Ijssel city Kampen, he went onboard te admit in his hospital persons who were to ill to be transported. He also adopted the six year old Jewish child Erik Meijler in his family.

On 6 January 1946 he earned a cum laude doctorate in internal medicine from the University of Groningen. Many would follow. In the early years of his career in The Netherlands (1937-1950), Kolff stood alone in his conviction that engineering could assist doctors in the medical treatment of patients. He had to deal with huge resistance and resentment. For this Kolff went to America in 1950. Here he became a pioneering developer of the artificial kidney, heart, ear and eye.

Kolff, called the Father of Artificial Organs, became one of the most laureated physicians of the 20th century. He obtained 13 honorary doctorates and 127 international awards. He was four times nominated for the Noble prize. In 1990 Life Magazine included him in its list of the 100 Most Important Persons of the 20th Century. In 2003 it was estimated that his inventions had saved or improved the life of more than 20 million people.


Kolff married on 4 September 1937 in Apeldoorn Janke Cormelia Huidekoper (5 November 1913, Semarang - 25 February 2006, Port Townsend (USA)). Both got the Yad Vashem award for their contributions during WWII. They got six children. Jacob Kolff (23 Augustus 1938, Groningen) became a professor of heart surgery. Adriana Pieternella Kolff (18 November 1940, Groningen) was a B.A. Gualtherus Constantinus Marius Kolff (12 July 1943,Kampen - 19 July 1943, Zwolle). Albert Jacob Kolff (8 June 1944, Kampen) became an architect. Cornelis Albert Kollf (1 May 1945, Kampen( became a M.D. for children. Gualtherus Constantinus Marius (24 June 1949, Kampen) became chief executive officer of an Health Care Company.

Kolff died on 11 February 11 2009, in a care center in Philadelphia. He was survived by 5 children, 12 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. He was a generous physician, who never patented his ground-breaking inventions, but enjoyed a rich life.

Link to Wikipedia



  • Relationship : Marriage 4 September 1937 in Apeldoorn (Janke Cormelia Huidekoper)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Significant person 15 May 1940 in Den Haag (Suicide of Leo Polak Daniëls and his wife)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : New Job 1 July 1941 in Kampen (Kampen city hospital)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Child 19 July 1943 in Kampen (Gualtherus Constantinus Marius Kolff)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Great Achievement 11 September 1945 in Kampen (saved Maria Schafstadt with hemodialysis)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 6 January 1946 in Groningen (dissertation)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Great Achievement 1956 (First heart-lung machine)
  • Work : New Job 1967 in Salt Lake City (professor)

Source Notes

Svi retrieved BC on open archives of Leiden: des namiddags te kwartovertwee uren (2h15 PM)

Kolff Genealogie cbb

Willem Johann Kolff, the Inventor of Kidney Dialysis


  • Traits : Mind : Exceptional mind
  • Traits : Personality : Practical/ Realistic
  • Vocation : Medical : Physician (internal medicine)
  • Vocation : Science : Biology (developer of artificial organs (kidney, heart-lung machine))
  • Notable : Awards : Vocational award (13 honorary doctorates and 127 international awards)
  • Notable : Famous : Founder/ originator (Father of Artificial Organs)
  • Mundane : Medical/Science : Other Medical/Science (Father of Artificial Organs (artificial kidney and heart-lung machine))