Norman Lasker, 84, of King of Prussia, a former professor at Thomas Jefferson University who developed a dialysis machine that could be used at home, died of heart failure Tuesday, April 19, under hospice care at Bethesda Memorial Hospital in Boynton Beach, Fla., where he had a winter home.
Dr. Lasker joined the Jefferson Medical College staff in 1969 as an associate professor and director of the dialysis unit.
In 1970, he told The Inquirer that advances were being made to treat kidney patients with dialysis outside the hospital.
By 1972, Dr. Lasker had developed a do-it-yourself device he called the Jefferson Cycler, which allowed a patient to perform dialysis at home without assistance. One patient, a disabled bricklayer, told The Inquirer that he "had made the hospital my second home" before learning to use the device. The patient was taught to attach an automatic fluid cycler to a catheter implanted in his abdomen.
"There is no need to attach the mechanism to an artery or vein as in the complex hospital method," Dr. Lasker told The Inquirer. He said the in-hospital care, hemodialysis, cost about $30,000 a year compared with $2,500 for at-home peritoneal dialysis.
Dr. Lasker was a strong advocate for Medicare coverage for dialysis treatment, said his daughter Halette Anderson, a physician.
"He had great charisma and had great passion for his work," said James F. Burke, a colleague of Dr. Lasker's at Jefferson for 10 years.
In 1972, Dr. Lasker received Jefferson's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.
From 1980 until retiring in 1996, he was a professor in the division of nephrology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.
He traveled to care for patients in their homes in Philadelphia and New Jersey, and patients and their families held him in high esteem, his daughter said.
Dr. Lasker was a fellow of the American College of Physicians.
A native of New York City, he earned a bachelor's degree from Rutgers University, a master's degree in pharmacology from the University of Illinois, and a medical degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Before joining the Jefferson staff, he was on the faculty of the Seton Hall College of Medicine in Jersey City, N.J.
An amateur violinist, he enjoyed playing music and singing with his daughters.
His wife of 47 years, Beatrice Schwarz Lasker, died in 1998.
Besides his daughter, Dr. Lasker is survived by daughters Susan Hertz, Emily Reich, and Joanne; nine grandchildren; and his partner, Betty Lou Davis.
Services were private.
Memorial donations may be made to the National Kidney Foundation, 30 E. 33d St., New York, N.Y. 10016.