Dr. Jimmy Boyd Zachary, kidney specialist, dies

Bayview physician studied kidney disease and dialysis and taught at Hopkins medical school

  • Jimmy Boyd Zachary
Jimmy Boyd Zachary
February 21, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun

Dr. Jimmy Boyd Zachary, a retired Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center physician who was a pioneer in the study of kidney disease, died of cancer Feb. 15 at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 83 and lived in Ruxton.

Born and raised in Pontotoc County, Miss., Dr. Zachary earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Mississippi. He received his M.D. at Harvard Medical School and came to Baltimore as an intern and then chief resident at the old Baltimore City Hospitals, now Bayview. He remained there for nearly 50 years, except for about four years spent in the Air Force.

Early in his career, Dr. Zachary worked in the study of a lung disease called sarcoidosis. He worked at the Johns Hopkins Hospital's outpatient clinic alongside Dr. Carol Johns.

Family members said his work in internal medicine and his interest in kidney disease led him to devote much of his medical career to the advancement of kidney dialysis and transplants. He founded Bayview's renal medicine division in 1974.

"He was clearly a pioneer in dialysis and kidney transplant in Maryland," said a friend, Dr. David A. Spector, who is on the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine faculty. "At the time, he became interested in the study of the kidney when there were few kidney specialists anywhere. He made himself a kidney specialist."

Dr. Zachary joined the Hopkins medical school faculty in 1963 and went on to treat patients with end-stage renal disease.

"He was a tireless advocate for his patients," Dr. Spector said. "If they didn't show up for a dialysis treatment, he'd call a cab and send for them. He wouldn't stop there. He'd send a technician on his staff out to bring them in. Often his patients had no rides available."

Dr. Zachary had been chairman and board member of the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland and was a member of the American Society of Nephrology, among other professional societies. He wrote numerous scientific papers, including ones published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Medical Journal. In 1978, he was named chairman of the Kidney Commission of Maryland.

In 1997, the Kidney Foundation honored him for his "pioneer[ing] new initiatives in Baltimore to save the lives of patients with the fatal disease, end stage kidney failure, when it was a mortal illness with no hope for survival."

He was also cited for performing "one of the first hemodialysis treatments in Baltimore" and for organizing a team that performed the first kidney transplant in the city.

He officially retired about 10 years ago but continued to see patients until about three years ago. At that time, he was an associate professor at Hopkins.

"People who knew my father as their physician will never forget his dedication, integrity and compassion," said his son, Peter Stefan Zachary of Lutherville. "While facing overwhelming challenges, they came to rely as much on his gentle reassurance and quiet confidence as on his medical skill and judgment."

In his spare time, Dr. Zachary kept a rose garden. When a patient left him a collection of orchids, he took up raising them in his basement. He also collected stamps, read works of history and collected books. He loved classical music and attended Baltimore Opera Company performances.

"It was his curiosity that kept him going," his son said.

Dr. Zachary enjoyed travel. He once led a medical delegation to China and visited Russia with medical colleagues.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. March 10 at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, 4940 Eastern Ave., in the atrium of the Asthma and Allergy Center.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 55 years, Dr. Annelies Sondheim, a retired obstetrician-gynecologist; two brothers, Everett Zachary of Ripley, Tenn., and James Cecil Zachary of Horn Lake, Miss.; and two sisters, Dorothy Mae Steele of Hernando, Miss., and Martha Sue Owens, of Potts Camp, Miss.


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