Willem Kolff

In 1971, after my first two years at medical school, Dr. Willem Kolff, who died Feb. 11 at 97, hired me to work on the artificial-heart project at the University of Utah. On my first day, he instructed me to create a new heart design that would keep an animal alive longer than any earlier models had.

Previous designs had failed, he explained, because they did not fit anatomically. And that was all he said. He told me what to do but not how to do it. That was Dr. Kolff's forte: finding enthusiastic people, laying out his visions and then...

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