Dr. Margaret Hilgartner Arky, a pediatric hematologist who pioneered new methods in the treatment of hemophilia, died Tuesday, August 19 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She was 83. She died from complications resulting from Parkinson’s Disease.
Dr. Hilgartner was born on November 6, 1924 in Baltimore, Maryland. She received a master’s degree in Zoology in 1951 and, as one of three women in her class, an M.D. degree in 1955, both from Duke University. She moved to New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center for her residency as well as her fellowship training in pediatric hematology, with Drs. Carl Smith and Irving Schulman, where she became interested in the newborn with coagulation problems and in the clinical care of children with hemophilia.
By 1966, she headed Cornell’s hemophilia program. In 1972, with Dr. William Arnold at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Dr. Hilgartner developed the first classification of hemophilic arthropathy, which became the gold standard for assessing orthopedic outcomes. She also introduced self-infusion and comprehensive care to patients of all ages in New York City, an innovation that was adopted throughout the profession.
Margaret Hilgartner’s dedication to the field of hemophilia resulted in various leadership roles. She served as the Director of the Hemophilia Comprehensive Treatment Center at New York Hospital-Cornell from 1970 to 1995, and was the Division Chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology from 1978 to 1992. She also served as President of the Children’s Blood Foundation from 1992 to 1995. She was on the board of the New York Blood Bank for many years. She wrote and contributed to several books and countless articles, and served on the editorial boards of several leading medical and hematology journals. She was Assistant Chief of the Pediatric Department of Cornell Medical Center and served on many of New York Hospital’s operating and executive committees and acted on the admissions committee of the Duke University Medical School. She served as chief of her local health department in Tenafly, New Jersey, where she lived.
Dr. Hilgartner’s major research contributions were in the areas of complications of transfusion treatments, autoimmune responses, inhibitors, and the infectious complications of hepatitis and HIV. She was particularly interested in the effects of HIV virus on the growth and development of patients with hemophilia and the difference in their immune responses. While fascinated with research, she was passionate about teaching, and was a mentor to many physicians. She helped maintain a cooperative program with Memorial Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology Department. She also had a collaborative program for Hemophilic care with her close friend and colleague at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Louis Aledort. Together they served to provide consultative services on behalf of U.S. Public Health Services to the Caribbean medical services in Puerto Rico. Further international efforts extended to collaboration with the Portuguese – American Medical research foundation in Porto, Portugal as well as physicians in Israel, China, Japan, Yugoslavia and Russia.
Dr. Hilgartner balanced her career with a fulfilling personal life. She was married to Dr. Milton Arky for over 50 years, and together they have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. She was an avid gardener, and talented at flower arranging, needlepoint, and crafts. She enjoyed music, ballet, ice skating, tennis, and entertaining. In addition to her husband, she is survived by daughter Liz Arky; sons George Arky and wife Tita, and Jack Arky and wife Emilie; and grandchildren, Peter, Clare, Grace, Laura, Julian and Zane Arky.
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 in Pittsboro, NC. A second service will be held in New York at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Margaret’s name may be made to Children’s Cancer and Blood Foundation, 333 East 38th Street #830, New York, NY 10016; or to Duke Medical School Scholarships, 512 S. Mangum Street #400, Durham, NC 27701.
Arrangements are entrusted to Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. 1113 W. Main Street, Durham, NC 27701, 919-688-6387
On-line memorials: www.hallwynne .com. select obituaries.