History of Nephrology 10 - Development of nephrology

Great figures of Polish Nephrology – Participants of the Warsaw Uprising 1944


In 1944, during the World War II, many doctors and many medical students participated in the Warsaw Uprising. This group also comprised future nephrologists, professors of medicine, founders of Polish nephrology, dialysis and transplantology centers. We presented 3 of great polish nephrologists who participated in medical services in the Warsaw Uprising: Zygmunt Hanicki, Andrzej Manitius and Tadeusz Orłowski.

Key words: giants of nephrology, polish nephrologists, Warsaw Uprising



During the Warsaw Uprising, in 60 days 150 thousand civilians and 15-18 thousand insurgents, soldiers of the Home Army, were killed. Number of casualties would have been even larger if it had not been for the well prepared operations of medical services. It is estimated that medical services saved around 25 thousand lives. 1210 doctors and many medical students participated in the Uprising. We presented 3 of great nephrologists, pioneers of Polish nephrology and transplantology, who participated in Warsaw Uprising (1944) and after the war organized the clinics of nephrology, dialysis and renal transplantation centers in Poland.

Zygmunt Hanicki (1919-1995)

[Figure 1] He was a volunteer in Insurgent Medical Services. During the war, he studied medicine at the Secret University of Warsaw and worked in the Institute of Hygiene. He vaccinated civilians against typhoid fever using vaccines manufactured by Rudolf Weigl Institute in Warsaw. In conspiracy he worked as a courier for the Home Army (Polish resistance organization during World War II). During the Warsaw Uprising, similarly to other senior medical students, he gave first aid to the Insurgents and civilians at the first-aid post of Kolonia Staszica region. He participated in evacuation of the injured to the Dzieciatka Jesus Hospital. Before the fall of the Uprising, he left Warsaw towards Radom. After the war, he completed medical studies in Cracow and began work at the 2nd Department of Internal Disease of the Jagiellonian University. In 1962 he organized the first dialysis centre of Southern Poland and performed the first hemodialysis using with Alwall dialysis machine. In 1969, after the creation of the Department of Nephrology, he became its the first head until he retired in 1989. He participated actively in organizing several dialysis centres in south-eastern Poland. He had many scientific and professional functions. He was a member of the Scientific Committee at the Polish Ministry of Health, member of the Commission on Nephrology and Metabolic Diseases of the Polish Academy of Science, regional consultant in Nephrology and the member of several Polish and foreign scientific associations. He was a honorary member of the Polish Society of Nephrology [1] [2] [3].

Andrzej Manitius (1927-2001)

[Figure 2] He was a soldier of the Warsaw District of the Home Army. His nickname was “Skała” (“the Rock”). He was assigned to Śródmieście – Południe headquarters and then delegated to the cover of OS-V district headquarters. As a medical orderly he gave aid to wounded soldiers at a medical point in a basement of one of Warsovian houses. He got through sewers to Mokotów district where he was arrested by German troops. He was a prisoner in Stalag X B POW camp in Sandbostel, West Germany, until liberated in 1945 by the US Army. He came back to Poland in 1947 and, continuing his family’s tradition, was enrolled at Medical Academy in Gdańsk. In 1964 he organized the first dialysis centre in Northern Poland. He was the first Head of the Department of Renal Diseases, Medical Academy in Gdańsk. He actively participated in organization of the new dialysis centers and renal transplantology in Poland. He was the regional consultant in nephrology in Northern Poland and national consultant for many years. He was the founder, vice-president and a honorary member of the Polish Society of Nephrology. Professor Manitius was a distinguished figure not only in the history of Polish nephrology but in Polish medicine in general [4].

Tadeusz Orłowski (1917-2008)

[Figure 3] In conspiracy since the beginning of the war, he was the officer of the Home Army. He was nicknamed “Justyn”. He completed medical studies in 1943 at the underground University of Warsaw. He trained medical orderlies at the Dzieciatka Jesus Hospital. He worked in counter-intelligence of the London Government Delegation. On the day of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising he became the commander of the Main First-Aid Point of “Odwet” battalion of Ochota district. After moving to Śródmieście district he organized an infirmary in the Faculty of Architecture building of the Warsaw University of Technology which he led until the fall of the Uprising. He left burning Warsaw together with civilians towards Piotrków. In the post-war period he worked at the Medical Academy and also at the Scientific Institute of Physical Culture of Warsaw. In 1953 he carried out the first peritoneal dialysis in Poland. He organized the first dialysis center in Warsaw. He was the chairman of the Department of Internal Disease at the Medical Academy in Warsaw, the first director of the Transplantation Institute and a professor in the Institute of Biocybernetics and Biomedical Engineering at the Polish Academy of Sciences. It has to be noted that he was involved in the first successful kidney transplant in Poland (1963), prepared and introduced immunotherapy for primary glomerulopathies and modified of ESRD therapy. He was the first President of the Polish Society of Nephrology (1983). Professor Orłowski was the honorary member of several associations and academies including the Polish-American Medical Society, Polish Society of Internal Medicine, Polish Immunological Society and many more. He was also a great university teacher and the national consultant in nephrology and transplantology in Poland for many years [5] (full text) [6] (full text) [7].