When the professional is the patient

Some amazing stories

  • Robin Eady
  • Peter Lundin
  • Nancy Spaeth


Peter Lundin (1944-2001), ‘physician-patient role model’

Peter Lundin became a medical student with only with great difficulty, after developing end stage renal failure as an undergraduate at Stanford in the 1960s during his pre-med years. He was accepted for treatment in Seattle in the very early days of long-term dialysis in 1966 – before it was known that it could be a long-term treatment. Medical schools were very reluctant to admit him. According to Geoffrey Berlyne, Dr Eli Friedman pressed his arguments and became his mentor. Lundin then became a nephrologist while spending most of the rest of his life also as a dialysis patient; 30 years on haemodialysis and 5 transplanted.

He was ’empathic with the patients to such a degree as to be a major influence on his colleagues … He was an extreme optimist, a man of great faith, and a few minutes conversation with him was enough to blow away doubts and despair in the vast majority of his patients and colleagues.’ (GM Berlyne 2001).

When he died he was Professor of Medicine. Dr Belding Scribner, founder of the Seattle programme, described how long term treatment was achieved for him and others by the invention of a home haemodialysis programme. As this was before national provision of dialysis in the US, the family had to meet the (substantial) costs.

His account of the symptoms of uraemia, evidenced by his experience of too little dialysis, is memorable.