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'Father' of artificial organs to speak at Ohio University

Willem Kolff shows his newest lifesaving invention, the wearable artificial lung.ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 9, 2003) -- Dr. Willem Kolff, inventor of kidney dialysis and winner of the 2003 Russ Prize, will speak about his inventions from 10:10 to 11 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, at Ohio University's Irvine Auditorium on the West Green. Kolff will speak as part of the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology's Stocker Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.

Kolff, 93, engineered the first dialysis machine out of sausage casings and part of an automobile water pump during World War II in Nazi-occupied Holland. He was driven by the experience of seeing a young man suffer through the agony of kidney failure as his body gradually lost the ability to filter out waste. At least 1.2 million people are alive today because of kidney dialysis.

He has since developed the heart-lung machine, the intra-aortic balloon pump heart assist device, the artificial eye and the artificial heart made famous by its first human recipient, Barney Clark. Kolff currently resides in Newton Square, Pa., and is fine-tuning his next invention, the wearable artificial lung.

"This is a unique opportunity to meet one of the giants in medicine and engineering. Dr. Kolff's positive impact on the human condition ranks with that of the invention of the polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox," said Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin.

Modeled after the Nobel Prize, the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in an engineering field that contributes to the advancement of science and engineering and improves the quality of life. The $500,000 award was established by Fritz Russ, a 1942 Ohio University engineering graduate, and his wife, Dolores in 1999 through a multimillion-dollar endowment to Ohio University.

The award is presented biannually by the National Academy of Engineering. The first Russ Prize was presented in 2001 to Earl Bakken and Wilson Greatbatch, inventors of the first human heart pacemakers.

The Stocker Lecture Series is named for C. Paul Stocker, a 1926 Ohio University engineering graduate, and his wife, Beth.

The Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, educates well-rounded professionals with both technical and team-project skills. The Russ College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees across the traditional engineering spectrum and in technology disciplines such as aviation, computer science, and industrial technology. Research areas currently receiving significant funding include avionics, distributed and secure computing, fuel cells, oil and gas pipeline corrosion, and environmental pipes and culverts. Named for alumnus Fritz Russ and his wife Dolores, the Russ College is home of the Russ Prize, one of the top three engineering prizes in the world. For more information, visit www.ohio.edu/engineering.

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Media Contact: Russ College Director of External Relations Colleen Girton, (740) 593-1488 or girtonc@ohio.edu

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