Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Adrian Izhack Katz August 3rd, 1932 to August 17th, 2009


Dr. Katz was my mentor in the nephrology clinic my first year of fellowship. It was his last year of clinical work at the University of Chicago. He was also the supervising attending during some of my dialysis rotations. That rotation was liking being a traffic cop for inpatient dialysis. It is also where I got my twitter handle, @Kidney_boy. It was my beeper salutation.

He was a master of clinical medicine but we came at it from opposite directions. He was finishing and I was starting. He wanted to impart fatherly, philosophic reflections. I was hungry for raw data. I was racing to fill my head with facts. I wish I had an opportunity to spend time with him after I had matured.

Some memorable moments with Adrian:
  • We had just finished clinic in the DCAM and were walking back to the nephrology section. We often would go to his office to discuss something but this time he invited me into a lab. He turned on a Bunsen burner and made two shots of Turkish Coffee. Spending those moments drinking fresh coffee in the lab was the single coolest teacher-student moment of my life.
  • My wife and I had twins while we were in Hyde Park. Only two professors came over for the Bris on my birthday, Adrian Katz and Pat Murray.
  • Adrian and Miriam invited my wife and I over to his house for Passover. We brought our 6 month old twins. I remember being terrified of what they would break. The Katz's were wonderful hosts and it was like going to the Wizard of Oz for dinner.
  • I remember his office. It was a beautiful large office with great built in bookcases lining one wall. The cases were full and every second or third book had a small yellow sticker. For months I had been meeting him in there. I had noticed the dots but assumed it was just a personal filing system. One day he asked me if I knew what those dots meant. I shrugged. He explained that a dot represented a book or chapter he had written. It was a mind boggling accomplishment, you were literally faced with a wall of academic achievment. I have written textbook chapters. For me it is about as easy as coughing up a lung. Amazing.
  • We were talking about intradialytic hypotension. How could we dialyze this patient without resorting to CVVH and a transfer to the ICU. I mentioned cold dialysate and he said that it is effective but patients don't like it. My eyes widened like saucers and I said:
"I didn't know that patients could feel the cooler temperature."
Adrian replied, "You could fill an ark with what you don't know." And then started laughing uproariously. When he finally regained composure, he had tears in his eyes. He explained that he had once had a mentor who had used that same joke on one of Adrian's peers. It was such a happy memory for him that he couldn't contain it.
University of Chicago has a nice obituary.

He was a respected teacher.
The world is a shade paler without him.

Found a photo deep in the hard drive from that Seder:

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