The Blue Journal after 40 years


Int J Artif Organs 2017; 40(3): 89 - 89

Article Type: EDITORIAL



George Dunea, Diego Brancaccio

Article History

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The pioneering efforts in dialysis of the 1960s were followed by several decades of worldwide expansion during which this life-saving modality became available to thousands of patients. During this period, technology and scientific knowledge advanced, and many more physicians became nephrologists. Concomitant with this expansion came a proliferation of new publications, in an area once the exclusive domain of George Schreiner’s venerable Transactions of the American Society of Artificial Organs.

At the end of the 1970s, 2 journals arose, one with a yellow cover and based in Cleveland, Ohio, the other blue and from Milan, Italy. Both had the same editorial board and both had Dr. Willem Kolff as honorary editor-in-chief. Indeed, Dr. Kolff enthusiastically supported these projects. Coming to Milan several times, he attended the editorial meetings at the publishing house and proudly exhibited models of his artificial heart to the staff as well as to the waiters in the city’s elegant restaurants.

In 1977, at the 23rd meeting of the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) in Montreal, Canada, we decided to expand the reach of what colloquially was already being referred to as the Blue Journal. We made plans to add more features by developing a lively correspondence section, somewhat analogous to what now might be called a blog. But, disappointingly, this project went nowhere. During the ensuing year we received a single, brief letter, from New Guinea, describing how when Queen Elizabeth visited Port Moresby, the natives celebrated her arrival with drinks containing methyl alcohol. As several patients needed dialysis, the physicians made up their own peritoneal dialysis fluid, which was the gist of the letter. Though brief, it required considerable editing and there were several unfruitful, long-distance exchanges, causing us in the future to make the editorial changes ourselves, a policy we maintained for the ensuing decades. It was also clear that a different strategy was needed.

The next year, at the 7th meeting of the International Society of Nephrology, also in Montreal, and later at the 24th ASAIO conference in Chicago, we decided on a different strategy, by instituting a section on editorials. The plan was to solicit editorials, edit them, and thus gradually increase the appeal of the journal. This proved to be more successful. There were certainly early growing pains – complaints about misprints and mislabeled images, for instance – but slowly these glitches were taken care of. Over the years, the quality of the journal consistently improved, both in formal terms and in scientific selection, as confirmed by a steadily rising impact factor.

By 1980, one might have thought that a trip to Milan would provide the opportunity to visit a large publishing company. It turned out instead that the journal was being produced in the lovely, private home of Dr. Luciano Fiume, then owner and CEO of Wichtig Editore. A man with deep interests in art and music, he also became a supporter of the sciences by promoting a journal on artificial organs. He held meetings in the living room of his beautiful home, adorned by an exquisite antique organ; but the actual work was done in a large adjoining room, with a large table in the middle for layout and piles of blue journals strewn all over the floor. Dr. Fiume said he wanted to move Wichtig out of his house, which was eventually accomplished. A couple of years later, he left the management of Wichtig, leaving his chair to Giorgio Pedroni, someone with more affinity for business. As time went on, the organization and its staff expanded, books and journals in other specialties were added, so that Wichtig Editore has indeed become a large publishing house now, producing 15 international journals. It furnishes yet another example of how large, successful enterprises often trace their origins to quite modest beginnings.

Anyone who has read Anthony Trollope’s novels on politics in church or government will not be surprised that medical people, too, as members of the same human species, may not always engage in friendly competition. In this regard, the 2 artificial organs journals were no exception. They had similar aims and addressed an identical audience. But years of trying to bring them together were no more successful than uniting the Eastern and Western churches. Nobody was excommunicated but neither was any progress made at the regular meetings held at dialysis or nephrology conferences. Once, in Chicago, a meeting lasted so long that Carmelo Giordano almost missed his plane after we took the wrong turn driving him to the airport.

So the union never happened, and the blue and the yellow merrily went their own ways. Later, at the end of a scientific meeting, supported by a moderate amount of alcohol, the decision was made to publish the Blue Journal in association with the European Society of Artificial Organs. This engagement later evolved into an affiliation, a stable marriage the anniversary of which was celebrated shortly after the 9/11 events at a San Carlo Nephrology Course in Milan. Two years later, Wichtig Editore became Wichtig Publishing of Manchester, relocated from one soccer powerhouse city to another, the culmination of a journey that began almost 40 years ago on a rainy day in Montreal, Canada.



  • - Chicago, USA Coordinating Editor - Editorials
  • - Milan, Italy Founder and Honorary Coordinating Editor The International Journal of Artificial Organs (IJAO)

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