Saturday, September 24, 2005


It was my honor and my privilege to call Damian Potts not only my colleague but also my friend. It is a little over a year now since he passed away from cancer.

Damian was not only scary smart--I remember his presentation of Redelmeier et al's "The beguiling pursuit of more information", and he would have been a brilliant informaticist when he finished--but he was also funny, kind, generous, and quirky. I was only able to make it to the last Kidney Party, but it was a tradition that he carried on for about 10 years after his kidney transplant. His friends gathered for food, fun, songs, stories, and art with a kidney theme in honor of Damian--and he had many friends.

His wife Leah has established a scholarship endowment at the Northwest Kidney Centers Foundation.

Team Damian is doing the Dawg Dash for the second year in honor of Damian. Unfortunately, I won't be back from Philly in time for it, although I will be able to be there in spirit by making Hawaiian-shirt memorial ribbons for the team.

My favorite Damian story (after the jokes that are so inappropriate that I am not going to post them here): Knowing of my interest in comparative anatomy, he asked me a question he had gotten during a recent Trivial Pursuit game: "What is the only animal that has four knees?" Mystified, I finally gave up. "The elephant!" announced Damian triumphantly, since the joints of its forelegs and hind legs point the same way.

I objected on ontogenetic grounds, and pointed out that a spatial rotation of the olecranon (elbow) did not transform it into a patella (kneecap), and that therefore the question was wrong in its assumptions.

Damian just looked at me pityingly and said, "I bet you don't get invited to play Trivial Pursuit much, do you?"


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