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Krysztof Krawczyński and Elżbieta Gürtler-Krawczyńska

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 04 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1854
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Krysztof Krawczyński, viral hepatitis expert, and his wife, Elżbieta Gürtler-Krawczyńska, cardiologist and radiologist, died in a car crash after a birthday outing

Credit: Pawel Loj

On Thursday 28 January 2016, Elżbieta Gürtler-Krawczyńska and her husband, Krysztof Krawczyński, were in their silver Mercedes, driving through the evening darkness toward their home near Atlanta in the United States. It was her 79th birthday and they had earlier enjoyed a celebratory dinner in a restaurant.

Kris and Elizabeth, as they were called by their American friends, were both born in Poland. They had both qualified in medicine in 1962, from what is now called the Medical University of Warsaw. And in 1984, as political tensions grew in Poland—at the time a member of the former Soviet controlled communist eastern bloc—they both emigrated to the US for a new start in life. More than three successful decades later, as they drove home from Elizabeth’s birthday dinner, both were looking forward to enjoying many more years together.

Elizabeth, professor emeritus of radiology at Emory University, was active in Atlanta’s Polish community and in the Catholic Church. Extremely proud of her Polish heritage, she had in the 1990s in Rome personally received Holy Communion from her fellow countryman, Pope John Paul II. “I was really in heaven,” she later recalled.

Kris was internationally renowned as an expert in viral hepatitis. During his 31 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), he investigated pathological, immunological, and virological aspects of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, …

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