Obituary: Dr. Norman Coplon, nephrologist and innovator


Dr. Norman Coplon, founder of the nonprofit Satellite Healthcare and an award-winning nephrologist who taught at Stanford University, died at his Portola Valley home on Jan. 11 following a long illness. He was 77.

Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1937, he attended Syracuse University and then medical school at the State University of New York Upstate.

He met his future wife of 53 years, Sandra, as she observed him examine a patient as part of her nursing program, according to the family. He asked her out the next day when her date for the evening left for the restroom. The couple married in 1961.

Taking a break between the first and second year of residency, Dr. Coplon went to Arizona to serve two years as a resident physician with the Army.

In 1966 he and his family moved to California, where he completed his medical training at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, followed by a fellowship in nephrology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He was named director of Stanford's Renal Care Unit.

In San Jose in 1973, he opened Satellite Dialysis, the first freestanding dialysis facility in California. It became Satellite Healthcare in 1999.

Dr. Coplon and his team strived to provide a home-like setting to make patients feel like part of a family. The model proved to be a success and today provides care to more than 6,000 patients across six states.

His daughter, Bonnie, described him on the Almanac's Lasting Memories website "as a gregarious man who was the life of the party and, quite literally at times, a cheerleader of life. He often brought his children to football games at Stanford, where they'd sell pom-poms to fans in the stands. After the games they'd collect the pom-poms to resell at the next game, and donate the day's earnings to the National Kidney Foundation."

In 2000, Dr. Coplon and Satellite Healthcare established the Norman S. Coplon Grants to provide funds to researchers seeking ways to improve kidney health.

He received numerous awards, including the "Martin Wagner Memorial Award" from the National Kidney Foundation in 1979 and the organization's "Man of the Year" award in 1992. Stanford University named him a Distinguished Fellow, and in 2008 endowed the Norman S. Coplon/Satellite Healthcare Professorship in Medicine in the department of Nephrology in his honor.

He is survived by wife Sandra; brother Arthur; children Bonnie Hirsch, Dovid Coplon and Deana Bressel; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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