History of Pediatric Nephrology

In 1983, Douglas Ford, MD, arrived in Denver to pursue a pediatric nephrology fellowship with Gary Lum, MD. Instead of the booklined faculty office setting Ford had envisioned, the interview took place in a University Hospital surgical suite. “We literally were talking over a patient’s abdomen,” Ford says.

The procedure Lum was performing—implantation of an indwelling Tenckhoff® catheter—would make it possible for the adult nephrology patient to benefit from ongoing peritoneal dialysis instead of hemodialysis. Lum had learned the procedure directly from Henry Tenckhoff, MD, “the father of chronic peritoneal dialysis,” at the University of Washington. He had been sent there by Dr. Robert Schrier, chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado and head of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension for two decades. Schrier and Lum had agreed that the latter would perform adult procedures as the new subspecialty of pediatric nephrology grew.

Ford recaps the interview: “I had just completed my residency at the University of Oklahoma, and I knew this was definitely where I wanted to be.”

Pediatric nephrology began evolving from adult nephrology in the early 1970s, with the American Board of Pediatrics offering its first certification examination for the subspecialty in 1974. That was the same year Lum—who had been working with Schrier’s researchers while finishing his training—was recruited as one of three pediatric nephrology fellows by Rawle McIntosh, MD, the respected University nephrologist and immunologist who had launched the program.

Lum continued as an associate professor following his fellowship, becoming Section Head after McIntosh’s death in 1976. He would remain in the post for 39 years, mentoring such nationally respected pediatric nephrologists as Ford, Robert Chevalier, MD, Brad Warady, MD, and Melissa Cadnapaphornchai, MD.

Today, The Kidney Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado sees thousands of patients annually. It remains at the forefront of research and education to improve transplant and dialysis processes and serves as Colorado’s only 100 percent pediatric dialysis center.

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