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American prize for Polish lymphologist

27.11.2006 Nature, Scientists
Polish scientist – Prof. Waldemar Olszewski - has received the “Best Career Investigator Award” from two American medical organisations - The National Lymphedema Network and the Lymphology Association of North America.

The organisation unites doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. The award was given for the Professors innovative diagnostic (among others combining lymphoscynthygraphy and ultrasonography) and treatment methods - giving small doses of penicillin to prevent chronic skin and under-skin tissue inflammation as well as lymphatic-vascular  anastomosis microsurgery.

Earlier, in October 2006, Prof. Olszewski received a prize from The Lymphatic Research Foundation (US).

The Professor is a lymphatic vessel system microsurgery precursor, he has devised methods of preventative care for inhabitants of tropical countries. He runs the Transplant Surgery Unit at the Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.

The lymphatic system is an open network of vessels which transport one of the organ fluids - lymph. It is connected with the blood circulation system. The main functions of the lymphatic system is maintaining the optimal water and biochemical environment for the cells as well as removing harmful elements, like micro-organisms or fragments of the body’s own destroyed cells. Its task is also to regulate healing and - presumably - regenerating tissues.

Prof. Olszewski has been studying the lymphatic system since 1962. He designed and constructed the first lymphatic-vascular anastomosis in lymph stasis . This way he became a worldwide precursor in lymphatic vessel microsurgery. To date, the lymphatic-vascular anastomosis designed by him have been used in over 100 operations.

In the 1980s, Prof. Olszewski discovered a specific property of the human lymph vessels - a rhythmic contractions. This means that fragments of these vessels, which have one way valves contract analogically to those of the heart. The effect is a permanent outflow of excess tissue fluid and lymph to the blood.

The Professor has also devised a method of preventing relapses of skin, lymph vessel and gland inflammation in tropical countries through administering penicillin. WHO experts have accepted this method and it is used by millions of people in the world.

With inhabitants of tropical countries in mind, Prof. Olszewski also devised a method of plastic surgery of the limbs in the case of lymph swellings, i.e. elephantiasis.

Last year, he received an honorary doctorate at the University of Genoa, which has been researching into the lymphatic system since the 18th century. Waldemar L. Olszewski graduated from the Warsaw Medical University. He is a member of the Polish Experimental and Clinical Immunology Society, the Polish Surgeons’ Society, the International Microsurgery Society and the European Lymphological Society.

Paweł Wernicki, Joanna Poros, tr.ajfb

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