Artificial Kidney


Willem J. Kolff (1911-2009) was a Dutch physician who in 1943, despite the cloud of Nazi occupation, devised the first workable artificial kidney. In 1947, Dr. Kolff brought two of his machines to America: one was installed in Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and the other in Montreal. John Merrill and Carl Walters, physicians at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, were inspired by Kolff’s achievement, and developed another machine based on his design. Dr. Merrill donated this example to the Smithsonian in 1970. An inscription reads “MADE BY / EDWARD A. OLSON CO. / ASHLAND, MASS. USA.”

Ref: Waldemar Kaempffert, “Artificial Kidney for Treatment of Uremic Poisoning Is Now in Use in New York,” New York Times (March 30, 1947), p. E9.

Francis Burns, “New Artificial Kidney Operated at Brigham,” Boston Globe (May 9, 1948), pp. C1, C22.

Edward A. Olson Co., The Kolff-Brigham Artificial Kidney (Ashland, Ma., n.d.).

“Willem Kolff, Doctor Who Invented Kidney and Heart Machines, Dies at 97,” New York Times (Feb. 13, 2009), p. A23.

“Dr. John Merrill, Transplant Pioneer, Dies in Boating Accident,” New York Times (April 10, 1984), p. B10.

“Strictly a Lathe and Drill Man, He Made the Artificial Kidney,” Boston Globe (March 9, 1959), p. 22.

Date Made: ca 1949

Maker: Edward A. Olson Co.

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Massachusetts, Boston

Subject: Artificial OrgansMedicineKidney dialysis


See more items in: Medicine and Science: Medicine, Health & Medicine, Artificial Hearts


Exhibition Location:

Related Publication: Kolff, Willem J.. The Artificial Kidney-Past, Present and Future

Credit Line: John P. Merrill, M.D.

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MG.291118Catalog Number: M-13845Accession Number: 291118

Object Name: artificial kidney machineartificial kidney

Physical Description: steel (overall material)plastic (overall material)rubber (overall material)Measurements: overall: 156.5 cm x 75 cm x 114 cm; 61 5/8 in x 29 17/32 in x 44 7/8 in


Record Id: nmah_1272088

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