Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Day 12 - Samuel L. Kountz Jr. - Revolutionized Transplant Surgery

Samuel L Kountz Jr.

  In 2001, my father-in-law's kidney's began to fail. My sister-in-law gave him one of hers. If not for Samuel Kountz, it might never have happened.

Samuel L. Kountz Jr.

1930 - 1981

Who Was He?

Samuel was born in Lexa, Arkansas. Lexa was an incredibly poverty-stricken area. His father was a Baptist minister, and his mother was a midwife. There was no doctor in the area, so his mother did her best to attend to the injuries people suffered, and his father played the role of nurse.

At the age of eight, Samuel decided that he wanted to be a doctor to relieve people's pain and suffering.

As with many African Americans in the early 1900s, most of the top medical schools in the country were closed to him, and many of the primary and secondary schools he could attend were both segregated and offered substandard education.

After graduation from high school, Kountz discovered his course work had been remedial, and he had to take extra classes to bring his level up high enough to get into college.

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

During his senior year at university, he met Senator J. William Fulbright. When Fulbright found out that Kountz was planning to apply to black medical schools after graduation, he encouraged him to apply to the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. 

Kountz followed this advice only to find out that the University of Arkansas Medical School did not accept black people into their program.

He did get a degree in chemistry at the University's Fayetteville branch. 

In 1956, Kountz earned his masters in chemistry, and his work was so excellent, the University of Arkansas changed its mind about letting him into the medical school, and in 1958 he became the first African American to graduate from the University of Arkansas Medical School.

After graduating, Kountz got a very prestigious internship at the San Francisco General Hospital

In 1959, he began his surgical training at Stanford University School of Medicine. It was here he decided to specialize in transplant surgery.

What Did He Do?

In 1961 while still in residence, Samuel Kountz made medical history when he conducted the first ever kidney transplant from a non-twin donor. It was a mother-daughter donor set.  

He figured out how to keep the body from rejecting a donated organ.

Kountz did groundbreaking work on human tissues to aid in finding good candidate matches for donors.

He developed the prototype for the Belzer Perfusion Kidney Machine that can keep kidneys alive for up to 50 hours.

He spent his life encouraging people to donate a kidney to help save the lives of others.

Over the course of his life, Kountz performed 500 kidney transplants, the most of any doctor at the time.

He traveled the world lecturing, teaching, and saving people's lives. 

Kountz developed the largest kidney transplant and research program in the country at the University of California in San Francisco.

In 1977, he was touring through South Africa and contracted a debilitating illness. He died in 1981. 

His Legacy?

What was once a dangerous, risky, scary and usually unsuccessful surgery (the transplantation of kidneys) is now practiced successfully in over 80 countries. 

Transplanting kidneys is not the last resort, it is the first line of treatment for someone whose kidneys are failing.

Kountz's work has saved countless lives, including my father-in-law's.

Samuel L. Kountz

Thank you, Samuel L. Kountz Jr. for making it possible for us to share the gift of life even if we don't have an identical twin.

Celebrate Black History!

Day 1 - The ABC's of Black History Month
Day 6 - Ernest Everett Just - Biologist, Zoologist, Cell man
Day 7 - Frederick McKinley Jones - The Coolest Man in Modern History
Day 8 - Sarah Goode - A Practical Bed For Small Spaces
Day 9 - William Henry Cling - Did He Invent The Hospital Bed Before Gatch?
Day 10 - Inez Beverly Prosser and Brown V.S. The Board of Education
Day 11 - Jan Ernst Mateliger - Mechanical Engineer/Sole Man
Day 12 - Samuel L. Kountz Jr. - Revolutionized Transplant Surgery
Day 13 - Lewis Howard Latimer - Incandescent Inventor
Day 14 - Marie Van Brittan Brown - Home Security
Day 15 - Norbert Rillieux - Sugar Man
Day 16 - Otis Boykin - He Kept Hearts Beating
Day 17 - Alice H. Parker - Heating It Up!
Day 18 - Lloyd Quarterman - Chemist and Atom Man
Day 19 - Robert F. Flemming Jr. - Guitar Man
Day 20 - Charles S. L. Baker - The Friction Radiator 
Day 21 - Granville T. Woods - The Black Edison
Day 22 - Alfred L. Cralle - Next Time You Have Ice Cream...
Day 23 - Ellen Elgin - Through The Wringer
Day 24 - Dr. Daniel Hale Williams - Holding A Heart In the Palm of His Hands
Day 25 - Benjamin Bradley - Steam Engine Dominance
Day 26 - Elijah McCoy - The Real One
Day 27 - Alexander Miles - Hold The Door, Please!

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