Jan Nielubowicz

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Jan Nielubowicz
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Born28 October 1915
Warsaw, Poland
Died2 February 2000
Warsaw, Poland

Jan Nielubowicz (28 October 1915 - 2 February 2000) was a Polish surgeon, regarded as the founder of modern Polish vascular surgery and Organ transplantation. He conducted the first successful kidney transplantation surgery in Poland.

Early life

Jan Nielubowicz was born into a medical family. His father, Dr. Kazimierz Nielubowicz, was a surgeon and urologist in Warsaw, and his grandfather, Dr. Władysław Nielubowicz, was a surgeon and director of a hospital in Kremenchuk, Ukraine.[1]

Nielubowicz attended the Stefan Batory Gymnasium and Lyceum (Warsaw, Poland).[2] His father died in 1929 when he was just 12, after his mother, Wanda, decided to move to Vilnius. There he graduated from high school and began his medical studies at Vilnius University. In 1936 he returned to Warsaw and continued his studies at the University of Warsaw, graduating in 1939.[3]


During the war, he worked as a doctor in the Vilnius Region. He returned to Warsaw in 1945 and started working as an assistant at the Surgical Clinic. Two years later, he defended his doctoral dissertation, and he obtained the postdoctoral degree in 1952. In 1962 he was awarded the title of associate professor and full professor in 1970.[1]

From 1957, while working at the Medical University of Warsaw, he was the head of the Department of Experimental Surgery of the Polish Academy of Sciences. From 1969 he was a correspondent member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and a full member from 1983. From 1981 to 1986, he was the Rector (academia) of the Medical University of Warsaw.[4]

He undertook many internships abroad to learn about international scientific developments. In 1956, he undertook a two-month internship at the Leriche Surgical Clinic in Strasbourg, France, in, 1963 he stayed at a month-long internship at the Institute of Heart Surgery and Vessels in Moscow, and in 1967 he spent three months at the Surgical Clinic of the University of London at the Hammersmith Hospital.[1] The most influential was a year-long stipend he received in 1958 from the Rockefeller Foundation at the Surgical Clinic of Harvard University in Boston, USA. The opportunity to travel and undertake internships outside of Poland was crucial for his professional development.[5]

Upon his return from Harvard, he established a school of research-based modern surgery. It opened up prospects for the development of many new areas of specialised surgery. In the field of vascular surgery, he performed over 3,000 operations on aneurysms of the abdominal aorta, peripheral arteries, renal arteries with his own modification of aorto-renal transplant. He introduced his own, original method of lymph node anastomosis in the treatment of lymphedema of the extremities. He uses an innovative, extracorporeal liver perfusion by the pig's liver in the treatment of acute liver failure. He introduced the operational production of the Portacaval anastomosis|portal-systemic anastomoses, performing over 300 such operations. In Endocrine system surgery, he initiated parathyroid surgeries,, and personally carried out 150 surgeries to remove the Adrenal gland|adrenal glands. He applied pioneering methods in the surgeries of acute diseases of the abdominal cavity, the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, bile ducts, and kidneys.[6]

Together with Tadeusz Orłowski, Nielubowicz initiated the transplant program in Poland and in 1966, successfully transplanted a kidney in a patient on chronic dialysis. This success was followed by establishment of the Transplantation Institute of the Warsaw Medical Academy in 1975, which facilitated the scientific and clinical growth of nephrology and transplantation in Poland.[7]

Kidney transplantation

On January 26 1966 the first successful Cadaver kidney transplantation in Poland was conducted by Nielubowicz. The surgical team had been preparing to start the clinical transplantation program for over two years, practicing the surgery on dogs. Experiments were designed to demonstrate the signs and symptoms of acute kidney Allotransplantation|allograft rejection, and to investigate the influence of several drugs used for its treatment.[8]

The recipient, a 18 year-old nursing school student, had been prepared for surgery and taken care afterwards in the Department of Medicine by nephrologist Tadeusz Orłowski and his team. The operation started at 5:00 PM and lasted only 57 minutes. In the span of a few minutes, the implanted kidney started functioning and the surgery was celebrated as successful. The patient died half a year later, on July 16 1966, despite her kidneys still working properly. The cause of death was Acute pancreatitis necrosis, possibly caused by the use of steroid drugs to prevent renal rejection.[9] The same year, Nielubowicz alongside Tadeusz Orłowski performed two more kidney transplants. The first of the patients lived with the new organ for two years, and the second - four.[10]


Due to his surgical achievements, Nielubowicz is regarded as the founder of modern Polish vascular surgery and Organ transplantation|transplantology. The date of the first kidney transplantation surgery in Poland, 26 January, is celebrated as Transplantology Day.[10]

In 2018 a street in Warsaw was named after him.[4]

Nielubowicz is buried at the Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ostrowski, Janusz; Rutkowski, Boleslaw. "Honorary Members of the Polish Society of Nephrology Part II. Prof. Jan Nielubowicz, MD, PhD". Forum Nefrologiczne. Volume 6, nr 2: 135–138. {{cite journal}}: |volume= has extra text (help)
  2. "II Liceum Ogólnokształcące z Oddziałami Dwujęzycznymi im. Stefana Batorego | Warszawski Uniwersytet Medyczny". www.wum.edu.pl. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  3. "Rocznica urodzin Jana Nielubowicza". Okręgowa Izba Lekarska w Warszawie im. prof. Jana Nielubowicza (in polski). Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Profesor Jan Nielubowicz patronem warszawskiej ulicy". Gazeta Lekarska (in polski). 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  5. Ksel, Cezary. 2020. ŚLADY JANA NIELUBOWICZA. 20 LAT BEZ PROFESORA. http://muzeum.wum.edu.pl/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/MDW-11-12_2020-Slady-Jana-Nielubowicza.20lat-bez-Profesora.pdf
  6. "Profesor Jan Nielubowicz. Potęga rozumu". Okręgowa Izba Lekarska w Warszawie im. prof. Jana Nielubowicza (in polski). Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  7. Smogorzewski, Miroslaw J. (2011). "Tadeusz Orlowski: founder of nephrology and kidney transplantation in Poland". Journal of Nephrology. 24 (Suppl. 17): 66–72. doi:10.5301/jn.2011.6495. ISSN 1121-8428.
  8. Rowinski, Wojciech. "History of organ transplantation in Warsaw. A personal perspective". Ann Transplant. 1, nr 1: 5–8.
  9. "Przed 50 laty odbył się pierwszy w Polsce przeszczep nerki". Polska Agencja Prasowa SA (in polski). Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Przed 50 laty odbył się pierwszy w Polsce przeszczep nerki". dzieje.pl (in polski). Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  11. cmentarze.um.warszawa.pl https://cmentarze.um.warszawa.pl/pomnik.aspx?pom_id=39213. Retrieved 2021-07-20. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

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