About ASN

Fred Boen, MD

January 1, 1927 - February 22, 2017

On February 22th 2017, Fred Boen passed away. He was an icon in the field of peritoneal dialysis.

S.T. (Fred) Boen was born in Indonesia in 1927 and studied medicine in Djakarta, Indonesia, until 1949 when he and his wife moved to The Netherlands. He continued his study at the University of Amsterdam and wrote his PhD thesis 'Peritoneal Dialysis, A clinical study of factors governing its effectiveness' during his fellowship internal medicine at the Binnengasthuis which was a university hospital in Amsterdam, under supervision of Prof. Dr. JGG Borst. This thesis, published in 1959 and consisting of 166 pages, has become the standard on peritoneal dialysis (PD) in the beginning of the sixties. It includes an extensive review of the literature on PD from 1877 to 1958 covering experimental data on normal and uremic animals as well as early experiments with peritoneal dialysis in patients in chapter 1. Chapter 2 comprises an analysis of the kinetics of intermittent PD from data in patients with acute renal failure. These were modelled to diffusion curves for several solutes. At the end of this chapter he made a comparison between PD and extracorporeal dialysis with the artificial kidney and concluded that no essential differences between both modalities existed for diffusion of solutes. The management of acute renal failure, either conservatively or by dialysis is discussed in chapter 3. It includes the technique, difficulties and complications, and indications for PD. Case histories of 22 severely ill patients with acute renal failure treated by this new procedure are described in chapter 4, illustrated by pictures presenting the course of the disease during the PD treatment. Nine of the 22 survived.

The content of the thesis was published in Medicine in 1961, promoting PD as a relatively simple and effective procedure to treat patients with kidney failure, even for chronic dialysis. As a result of this paper Dr. Belding Scribner invited Fred Boen to the North West Kidney Center in Seattle and offered him the possibility to continue his research. Boen accepted this invitation and moved with his wife and children to Seattle in 1962 where he worked until 1965, setting up a program for chronic PD at home. In 1964 he edited a book on PD, entitled Peritoneal Dialysis in Clinical Medicine, the first and only book on PD at that time. After the introduction of Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis (CAPD) in 1976 by Popovich and Moncrief, Boen stimulated CAPD in the Netherlands and was involved in the first Dutch publication on PD.

Fred Boen was also active in international societies. He was elected as the first vice-president of the newly formed International Society for Peritoneal Dialysis in 1984. From 1979 until 1984 he was secretary-treasurer of the European Renal Association - Dialysis and Transplant Association (ERA-EDTA) and became an honorary member of this Association in 1988. In 1991 Fred Boen received the Special Recognition Award in Peritoneal Dialysis at the Annual Dialysis Co nference in Nashville. He received the 'Celebration of Excellence' from the North West Kidney Foundation in 1996. In the same year, Fred was honoured with the James W Haviland award for outstanding Achievement in Nephrology, for which he was commended by Bill Clinton, at the time president of the U.S.A.

50 year after he finished his PhD Thesis, this event was celebrated with a special article in Peritoneal Dialysis International in 2009. Fred Boen was very pleased with this publication, but at that time his medical situation had begun to deteriorate. He suffered from heart problems, a cerebral vascular accident and passed away in February, nearly 90 year old. We will remember him as a kind and dedicated person and one of the founding fathers of PD.

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