Eduard Konrad Zirm
(18 March 1863
- 15 March 1944
) was an ophthalmologist
who performed the first successful human organ transplant
¹ on 7 December 1905
Zirm was born in Vienna, Austria in 1863. He studied medicine at the University of Vienna, and ophthalmology at the Eye Clinic there. After graduation, Zirm became an eye doctor at the Second Eye Clinic in Vienna, then accepted a position at a hospital in Olomouc, Moravia in 1892. There he became chief of the new ophthalmology clinic that he helped establish.
First corneal transplant
In 1905, Zirm first met Alois Glogar
, a day laborer from a small town in the Czech Republic
who had been blinded in both eyes
a year earlier while slaking lime
. Around the same time, an 11 year-old boy named Karl Brauer
was brought to Zirm's clinic due to an accident that left metal pieces in his eyes. When attempts to save Brauer's eyes were unsuccessful, Zirm enucleated
them and saved the corneas
into Glogar's. Although complications affected one eye, the other remained clear allowing Glogar to return to work.
The operation and healing were difficult at that time because without a microscope it was impossible to suture the cornea. Therefore, Zirm successfully used sutures from the outside. Although eye surgeons around the world had been unsuccessful in the operation in humans for over a hundred years, parallel advances in anaesthesia and antisepsis have also been credited in Zirm's success. Zirm 's method remains the basis for repairing corneal damage.
Zirm also played the violin and in his limited spare time studied natural philosophy. His 1937 publication of Die Welt als Fühlen discussed ideas now called Emotional Intelligence for the first time. He also wrote many poems and stories.
At the jubilee lecture relative to corneal transplant, Prof. Böck, the longtime head of the second Ophthalmology Department at the University in Vienna said:
- "The name of Dr. Eduard Zirm will always be connected with the great accomplishment of this medical technique. With pride the Ophthalmology Department of the University of Vienna includes him as one of its own".
In 1944, Zirm died in Olomouc, Czechoslovakia.
¹ Although the cornea is not an organ, doctors use the Greek word Organon (creation) as the term for all living parts of the body.
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