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Preserving oral history: 50 years of paediatric nephrology in Europe
  1. Yincent Tse1,
  2. Heather Maxwell2,
  3. Alan R Watson3,
  4. Richard Coward4,
  5. Elena Levtchenko5,
  6. Martin Christian6
  7. on behalf of the European Society for Paediatric Nephrology
  1. 1 Great North Children’s Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2 Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Glasgow, UK
  3. 3 Retired, formerly of University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  4. 4 University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  5. 5 European Society for Paediatric Nephrology, University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  6. 6 Nottingham Children’s Hospital, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yincent Tse, Great North Children’s Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK; yincent{at}

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The 1960s heralded an era when rapid advances in technology led to tremendous advances in medicine. We describe how the European Society for Paediatric Nephrology (ESPN) marked its 50th anniversary by creating an oral video archive from early pioneers treating children with kidney diseases. Today’s inexpensive technology democratises the ability to preserve medical history for future generations in a vivid form.


2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the European Society for Paediatric Nephrologyfoundation meeting in Glasgow. In 1967, 36 paediatric nephrologists from 22 countries gathered to share outcomes, innovations and to collaborate to fight kidney diseases in children. Today, there are over 1500 paediatric nephrologists in Europe. 2017 was also the centenary of the world’s first paediatric and adult kidney biopsies, which also took place at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. This was later published in Archives of Disease in Childhood in 1930 and outlined the result of a series of kidney ‘decapsulation’ to try to treat nephrosis, what we would today call nephrotic syndrome. A series of 19 children underwent this procedure and as part of this an open kidney biopsy was taken and examined microscopically.1

This era heralded the beginning of paediatric subspecialisation in nephrology. In Glasgow, Gavin Arneil (1923–2018) established a regional referral unit for children with kidney disease, it was the first in UK and only the third in Europe after Paris and Helsinki. Since then, tremendous advances in medical, nursing and psychosocial care have been made. Before the 1960s, no child with …

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Collaborators on behalf of the European Society for Paediatric Nephrology.

  • Correction notice This article has been amended since it was published Online First. Because of a production error the ’Summary' at the beginning of the paper was not included. We would like to apologise to the authors for this oversight and we have now included it in this updated version.

  • Presented at This work was presented at the 2018 RCPCH Annual Conference in Glasgow at the British Society for the History of Paediatrics and Child Health (BSHPCH) session.