When the history of medicine and science is told in the world, the prowess and achievements of Black people are so numerous. Being descendants of the first humans on earth, the average Black man has the mental ability to be an inventor in many fields.
In light of the above, Dr. Samuel Lee Kountz’s achievements in the field of medicine fully show the contributions of the Black man to the advancement of humanity. He was born in the state of Arkansas, US, in 1930, and grew up to hold three professional diplomas in agriculture, mechanical and chemical engineering respectively. He went on to become the first black person to be admitted into the University of Arkansas Medical school, through a scholarship.
When he completed his Ph.D. in medical science, he left for San Francisco, where he enrolled for a medical surgery course. There he met Dr. Cohn, who was also one of the pioneers of organ transplant at the time. In 1964, they both successfully carried out an organ transplant, which was said to be among the first in the world.
Dr. Samuel Kountz continued his research in organ transplants, and soon he made a discovery that would forever put his name on the sands of time. He discovered a steroid called methylprednisolone, which effectively reduces the rejection of transplanted organs. His discovery was a huge achievement in modern medicine because organ transplant patients recorded high death rates – less than 5% of them lived.
Dr. Kountz in his studies also outlined that reimplanting the kidney back to the donor after a rejection by the recipient helps improve vital prognosis. He also invented a better technique for the preservation of the kidney to be transplanted for over 50 hours after it is harvested. Because of his research, kidneys today can now be transplanted from a non-family member unto the patient. He was able to conduct as many as 500 kidney transplants before he died.
He was very passionate about organ donation and did his best to dispel the fears surrounding the practice. He undertook a live transplant in front of the Television cameras so that people could understand the process. After the live transplant, he got 20,000 donations.
He went ahead to gain more recognition and became a Professor and senior surgeon in hospitals of high reputation in the United States. He was a senior surgeon in Kings County Hospital in New York and was instrumental in improving the health care of Black people.
Dr. Kountz also established the biggest kidney transplant research center in America, in San Francisco, and went ahead to publish over 100 research papers on kidney transplants in modern medicine.
He died in New York in 1981, after he suffered a neurological illness during a visit to South Africa in 1977. The illness disabled him both mentally and physically, so he was bedridden and unable to move till his death.
His studies and findings in the field of organ tranplant have saved many lives and have revolutionized the field of transplants in modern medicine. Today organ transplant rejection is less likely because of his fundamental contribution to the use of steroids in the process of transplant.
He was a recipient of numerous awards and also a scholarship for African-Americans was named after him by the NAACP, which is a Black body dedicated to the betterment of Blacks in America.
The contributions to the medicine of men such as Dr. Samuel Lee Kountz is one that Black people worldwide should be proud of. These achievements should be thought in schools and homes so that our young people will feel proud of themselves and the abilities of members of their race.
We as a people owe to ourselves and those who will come after us, to celebrate the achievements of many of our brethren. It is in celebrating them, that we will encourage this generation and younger generations to strive for excellence – to aim for Black excellence.
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