Two (different) Giants of Gastroenterology have fallen.

Two (different) Giants of Gastroenterology have fallen.

Sad to write that Walt Hogan and Jose Ramon Armengol Miro passed recently. They dominated their respective fields but were so different in character. Others will document their massive contributions at appropriate length and eloquence. Allow me some brief personal comments and reminiscences.

WALT HOGAN was a sweet gentleman, reserved, always smiling and cheerful.

He was a prototype cognitive gastroenterologist, with a stellar academic career spent wholly at the Medical College of Wisconsin, USA. This was the brief announcement.

It is with great sadness that we share that Walter Hogan passed away on October 8th at the age of 91. Dr. Hogan was the University of Wisconsin medical school’s first fellow in gastroenterology. He served as a faculty member in the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology for 56 years from 1964 until his retirement in 2020. He was a pioneer in the field and a founder of the internationally renowned “Milwaukee Group” of digestive disease experts. Dr. Hogan was much loved and respected for his passion about education, clinical care, and clinical investigation. He created a culture of scholarship, inquisitiveness, and respect that percolated throughout the Medical College

The best evidence for Walt’s national prominence and respect in our field is the fact that he was elected as President of both the ASGE and AGA. Has anyone else reached that height?

My frequent interactions with Walt concerned our mutual interest in the tricky topic of sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. Despite our best efforts it is still a riddle wrapped up in an enigma (as Churchill might have said). We had many discussions and some polite arguments, but what I remember most is the simple pleasure of being in his company. I share a brief anecdote to show that this joy was widely shared.

A group of us were walking back from the conference center in New Orleans to the hotel, when a sudden drenching rain started. As most know, Walt could walk only very slowly with two canes. Instead of sprinting to cover, we all chose to walk at his pace and got soaked….

A comprehensive article about Walt can be found at VIDEOGIE 2019; 4 (2):53-55

Great memories, thank you, Walt. We miss you.

JOSE RAMON ARMENGOL MIRO was equally memorable, but different. He was a prototype interventional endoscopist. Like Walt he was charming and excellent company, but far from reserved.  I well remember crushing cigar-flavored hugs and legendary hospitality.

He was a long-time dominant force in gastroenterology in Europe, based at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital and Quiron Clinic in Barcelona, Spain. He built a center famous for innovation, teaching and research in interventional endoscopy, with world-wide respect and connections. He was active in the European Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, and was elected President in 1994.

I met him first in 1975 when attending a conference in which he gave a 10minute lecture about endoscoping patients with acute upper GI bleeding. It was remarkable for two things. Firstly, he reported on examining 5,000 patients, at a time when we were bragging on maybe a hundred. Secondly, he paused in the middle of his talk to light a cigar! Honest, I kid you not. I was slightly dubious about the 5,000 number until I spent a day at his unit. We endoscoped 10 bleeding patients in one morning. That led us to plan and execute the first ever randomized trial of laser treatment for bleeding, in his unit. This appealed to Armengol, as he loved all sorts of gadgets, and always had the latest computer or camera to show us.  One of my then trainees in London was volunteered to spend 6 months in Barcelona to supervise the study. Thank you, Alan.

Another personal connection. My daughter Nicola studied Spanish in College. As part of that she spent 2 months working as the receptionist at Armengol’s clinic. She and Alan have tales to tell.

Armengol had interests outside medicine. He told me once that Salvador Dali was a long-time patient and friend. That must have been interesting.

Great memories, thank you, Armengol. We miss you.

I’m not sure if Walt and Armengol ever met. Despite their prominence, their primary fields of interest scarcely overlapped. If they do meet, in another place, they will be glad.