By H. A. Hajar Albinali
It is very sad that I lost my friend and teacher Dr. Jos Roelandt. Rachel has mentioned some of his honors and accomplishments, so I will not repeat them. I will share with my colleagues, the readers, my personal memories with Dr. Roelandt in this article.
I first met Dr. Roelandt in 1976 when he came as a visiting professor at the cardiology department of the University of Oregon where I was a cardiology fellow. He taught me the principles of echocardiography.
In Oregon, Dr. Roelandt's family and mine had frequent gatherings. I was fascinated with his knowledge of the history of medicine and his stories of the struggles to develop the field of echocardiography. One of his personal stories that I was fascinated to hear was that his family had a beer brewery in Belgium, and his mother used to put a little amount of beer in his feeding bottle to put him to sleep if he cried!
Before Dr. Roelandt left the University of Oregon, he suggested that I join him at the Thoraxcentre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for two months of in-depth training in echocardiography. After I obtained the approval of the University of Oregon, I joined him for two-months in Rotterdam in 1977.
In Rotterdam, we became very close friends on both personal and family level. He and his wife's great generosity was that of Gulf Arab standards. We were invited to have dinner in their house several times a week. On the first dinner, his wife asked me what I would like to drink with dinner. "Water, please", I replied. Dr. Roelandt looked at me and smiled, saying, "Why only water? Do you think you are still living in a desert where water is very dear? Have some wine." "No", I replied, I do not drink wine, and my mother did not put in my milk what your mother put in yours!"
During that time in the Thoraxcentre, he introduced me to Dr. Paul Hugenholtz, a prominent European cardiologist, Emeritus Professor, and Chairman of cardiology at the Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam. He and Dr. Roelandt were working closely together. Professor Hugenholtz was busy traveling and lecturing and in his absence, Jos functioned as his assistant. Dr. Roelandt told me a joke then about Dr. Hugenholtz in the Thoraxcentre: What is the difference between God and Dr. Hugenholtz? The answer: God is everywhere but Dr. Hugenholtz is everywhere except in the Thoraxcentre.
I met Dr. Hugenholtz several times during my rotation in their center. I found him very intellectual and pleasant to talk to. He was busy setting out steps that gave the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) the organizational structure from which the current-day Society developed. He became its president in 1984-1988. Because of both Dr. Roelandt›s and Dr. Hugenholtz›s recommendation, I was lucky to be inducted as a Fellow of the ESC in those early days.
In 1982 when we opened Hamad Hospital in Doha, my wife, Rachel, then the Director of our Non-invasive cardiology section, requested Dr. Roelandt to help develop strong non-invasive cardiology in the new hospital. He came and spent two weeks with us and he gave valuable advice. Then he sent his senior echocardiography technician to train our technician for several weeks. Rachel continued to seek his advice and recommendations for the advancement of our non-invasive laboratory over the years. He visited our hospital several times and participated in the Gulf Heart Association (GHA) annual meetings with us as a guest speaker.
Over the last two years, he had some health problems but it did not interfere with his traveling and lecturing activities. A month before his death, he expressed to me over the telephone some anxiety related to his health but told me that he had accepted an invitation from the cardiology department of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland, Oregon to give a lecture.
On 3 September 2014, Raf, the son of my friend Dr. Roelandt called me and sadly informed me that his father passed away on Sunday 31 August 2014. Rachel was next to me hearing the conversation and started to cry. It was a piece of shocking and unexpected news that we received with tears and sorrow. I lost a friend and my profession lost a devoted physician who contributed a lot to medicine. Prof. Dr. Jos R.T.C. Roelandt entered the history of medicine as one of the great pioneers in echocardiography.
On Saturday 7 September 2014, Dr. Roelandt's funeral day, we sent this letter to his wife, Martine:
Words cannot express our deep shock, sorrow, and sadness for the loss of Jos. You lost a loving husband; your children lost a kind father, and we lost a very dear friend and a great teacher. His passing away is not only a loss for all of us who loved him but also a big loss for science and medicine.
Source: Heart Views: 2014 | Volume : 15 | Issue : 3 | Page : 64
Hajar A Hajar Albinali M.D., F.A.C.C., F.E.S.C.
Director, Medical Education, Chairman, Department of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery (1980-2011), Heart Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar.