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KOLOBOW Dr. Theodor Kolobow Passed away peacefully on March, 24, 2018 after a lengthy illness. Dr. Kolobow was born on July 20, 1931 in the small island village of Kardla, Estonia. The youngest of three children, Dr. Kolobow spent his early boyhood days growing up in a family where education and religion were very important in daily life, and the recent end of WWI stressed the vital importance of peace to everyone. Life for Dr. Kolobow during this time was idyllic as he enjoyed boyhood freedoms of life on an island, and helping his father with bee keeping and tending to the farm animals. Ted's father was a Russian Orthodox priest, lawyer and judge in the Estonian Supreme Court in Tallinn in the late 1930's. Dr. Kolobow 's mother would often tell her young son that there were three professions always in need: doctors, lawyers and shoemakers. The events of WWII forced Dr. Kolobow's family to flee Estonia in 1940 to a deported person's camp in Augsburg, Germany. Nine-year old Dr. Kolobow used education and learning as his primary focus as a means to cling to normalcy during a dark time in our world's history. Not only did Dr. Kolobow continue with lessons held after hours in the same schools attended by German children during the day, but he was "fortunate" enough to have as his teachers the many university professors and other professionals who had also fled Estonia. It was during this time that Dr. Kolobow learned to speak Russian, German and English. As a teenager, Dr. Kolobow was able to turn his language skills into a job at World Church Services in Munich, Germany, where he assisted fellow displaced Estonians in completing their applications to immigrate to America. Dr. Kolobow soon decided that America could provide him with the educational opportunities he now sought, and he successfully applied for a scholarship to Heidelberg College (now University) in Tiffin, Ohio. One month before his 19th birthday, with only $20 in his pocket and his father's crucifix and bible, Dr. Kolobow left his family and boarded the US warship Harry S. Taylor to New York City where he was met by Heidelberg's dean of students. While at Heidelberg College, Dr. Kolobow was in the work-study program and worked in the kitchen washing dishes. Dr. Kolobow excelled in math, physics and engineering, but it was in the machine shop at Heidelberg where he became interested in applying his ideas in the field of medicine. After only two years, and graduating second in his class at Heidelberg College in 1954, Dr. Kolobow started medical school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It was during his time in medical school where he started to develop his ideas for a thin-walled membrane spiral lung. He worked with Dr. George H. A. Clowes, a cardiothoracic surgeon who sought to develop new methods for oxygenation of blood in cardiopulmonary bypass. Dr. Clowes had begun research to identify plastic films (membranes) that would be suitable for gas exchange. Dr. Kolobow's contributions as a student in testing these membranes led to him being listed on a landmark paper that was presented at the founding meeting of American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) and laid the groundwork for the entire field of artificial lungs using gas permeable membranes (membrane oxygenators). This was the very first of many publications he would produce in his career. He continued working in Dr. Clowes' laboratory until completing his medical education at Case Western. In 1962, after completing a residency in internal medicine and pulmonology at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, he accepted a position as a staff associate in the Laboratory of Technical Development at the National Heart and Lung Institute (A Division of the NIH) where he spent the entirety of his career. At the NIH, Dr. Kolobow had the opportunity to nurture his multifaceted career, and was promoted to section chief of Pulmonary and Cardiac Assist Devices in 1970. His work is a clear example of translational research, with laboratory developments rapidly implemented in clinical practice. While at the NIH, Dr. Kolobow demonstrated that extracorporeal blood pumping with a membrane lung was sustainable for days to weeks. The membrane lung's ability to support prolonged gas exchange without protein denaturation or hemolysis allowed for the transition of cardiopulmonary bypass out of the operating room, helping to set the stage for the implementation of his clinical Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Dr. Kolobow's oxygenator has been used for almost all of the thousands of patients treated with ECMO for heart or lung failure. Dr. Kolobow has made many major contributions in artificial organs and in the pathophysiology of acute lung injury. Dr. Kolobow's ideas lead to many other biotechnological advances, and over the course of his career he accumulated over 20 patents. He helped develop new dialysis machines, cuffless endotracheal tubes, and additional devices to prop open right sided heart valves preventing left heart distention during percutaneous cardiopulmonary bypass. Many of the products of many of those innovative ideas are visible in our daily practice, and much of this work in the lab translated to clinical extracorporeal lung support (ECLS). He went on to design special low resistance endotracheal tubes to further limit the necessary ventilatory pressure, in addition to endotracheal tubes that would help to limit bacterial colonization. Dr. Kolobow also developed methods for preventing ventilator associated pneumonias. Dr. Kolobow was a frequent advisor to clinicians in the department of pulmonology at the National Health, Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where doctors from around the world came to learn from him. His expertise was invaluable in promoting ECLS technology. Dr. Kolobow always wanted to help people, and realized that if he conducted research at the National Institutes of Health., he could make a difference in medical outcomes. When asked what his greatest achievement has been, Dr. Kolobow would respond, "I survived the war." When asked what his greatest contribution had been, he would tell you, "ECMO." When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he would always simply respond with, "Peace." A young boy from Estonia growing up on a small island, never knew the impact he would have in the field of critical care medicine. A strong sense of what is right, and what is good, led him to pursue his pioneering spirit and insatiable desire to learn in a way that would benefit millions of people around the world. Theodor Kolobow is survived by his wife of 54 years, Danielle (Gigi) of Rockville, MD, his children, Mary Anne Kolobow of Rockville, MD, Dannielle Kolobow Torres and spouse, Kennedy Torres of Montgomery Village, MD, Theodor Kolobow and spouse, DeAnn Kolobow of Stevensville, MD, Christopher Kolobow and spouse, Colleen Kolobow of Sandpoint, ID, grandchildren, Craig Kolobow and spouse, Christine DiEleuterio Kolobow, Teddy Kolobow, Hannah Kolobow, Gabriella Torres, Nicholas Torres, Sophia Kolobow, Colette Kolobow, Canyon Kolobow, Calliope Kolobow, and one great-grandchild, Cassandra Kolobow. He is also survived by his sister, Irina Voise of Dayton, OH. He was predeceased by his parents, Theodor and Alide (Heyer) Kolobow, his sister, Lydia Kreil and his grandson, Kyle Connelly Kolobow. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 9000 Warfield Road, Gaithersburg, MD on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 11 a.m. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to , 8180 Greensboro Dr., Suite 400, McLean, VA 22102. Please view and sign the family online guestbook at:

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Published in The Washington Post on Mar. 26, 2018
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