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Wilhelm Malcz

Born 1795
Died 1852

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Polish physician, born November 30, 1795, Warsaw; died September 28, 1852, Warsaw.

Biography of Wilhelm Malcz

Wilhelm Malcz was the son of an immigrant Saxon surgeon (Maltsch) and Anna Dorota Bandau, a daughter of a Warsaw goldsmith. Malcz, who was orphaned at an early age, began his medical studies in Warsaw. But in 1817 he went to Berlin where he graduated as doctor of surgery and medicine in 1818. He then studied in Wien, Paris London, and Italy, before returning to Warsaw. He then practised in Warsaw and probably in Mniszew, 50 km south of Warsaw.

Malcz became widely known as a sensitive doctor for human miserability and often cured poor patients without a fee, and sometimes even supported them financially. In 1827 he became physician-in-chief of the St. Roche's Hospital in warsaw. Since 1828 he was a member of The Society of the Friends of Sciences (Towarzystwo Przyjació Nauk).

In 1828 Malcz founded the journal Pamiêtnik Lekarski Warszawski (Warsaw Physicians Memories) which he published for two years. In 1830 the journal was made the official organ of the Warsaw Medical Society. But then the so-called November Insurrection broke out and prevented the journal's further development. During this insurrection, which was an uprising og Poles against the Russian occupation, Malcz was the Medical Commander of the Polish National Guard in Warsaw. He was distinguished with the highest military honour, the Virtuti Militari Order.

In 1831, during the cholera epidemy in Warsaw, Malcz was the organizer of the battle against the disesae. He concluded that the disesae was not transferred by air. His experiences with this is described in his book On epidemic cholera from India.

Malcz' main professional interest was the epidemic and infectious diseases and public health. In 1847 he published the book about typhus in which he described the so-called the Malcz’ sign. His public activity was multidirectional. He was the President of the College Evangelic-Augsburgian commune in Warsaw. He was the co-founder of the Society of Charity (Towarzystwo Dobroczynnoœci) and he worked in the department of orphans and orphanage. In 1852 during the next cholera epidemy in Warsaw, dr Malcz fell ill with this disease and died after four months from liver complications.

He introduced the Polish names of many diseases, e.g. “dur” (typhus), “ospa” (smallpox), “odra” (morbilli) and “p³onica” (scarlet fever).

Many of his written works are found in Pamiêtnik Lekarski Warszawski, others are in Leopold Leo's (1792-1868) Magazin für die Heilkunde in Pohlen and in Pamietnik Towarzystwa lekarskiego. In 1823 in Warsaw he published a Polish translation of Louis-Vivant Lagneau's (1781-1868) work on syphilis.

Wilhelm Malcz was a tall, handsome, fair-haired man. He was the friend of many people from the intellectual society in Warsaw. His brother was Karol Filip Malcz (1797-1867) - the famous Polish artist (goldsmith). Married in 1822 with Julia Ekelt - they had six children of their own and one adopted.

We thank Krzysztof W. Zielinski for submitting a biography of Wilhelm Malcz. Zielinski is Professor, Department of Clinical Pathology and Cytopathology, Medical University, £ódŸ.

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