Irma Tchokhonelidze

Irma Tchokhonelidze

Pioneer Award: ISN NIS & Russia region

Dr. Irma Tchokonelidze graduated from Tbilisi State Medical University (TSMU) in 1991 during the collapse of the Georgian economy. She started her activity at the National Center of Urology hemodialysis unit as an internist since no specialty “nephrology” existed. In the interest of supplying urgent support to chronic kidney disease patients, “Kuratorium für Dialyse und Nierentarnaplantation” supported her education in Germany from 1995-1997.

Since then, Dr. Tchokonelidze has become a founder and leader of kidney care in Georgia, significantly furthering the practice of nephrology in Georgia. Her work includes initiating kidney biopsies; implementing peritoneal dialysis (PD) modality; transitioning from acetate to bicarbonate dialysate in hemodialysis; founding and leading the “Dialysis, Nephrology, and Kidney Transplantation Union of Georgia”; initiating official recognition and licensing of nephrology as a separate subject, establishing a three-year-postgraduate training program in nephrology at TSMU; instituting a nephrology-pathology school.

During years of inequality in dialysis access (1996-2011), her commitment was enormous and includes:

  • Collaborating with the health department and regional administration entities to increase kidney patients’ finances.
  • Visiting regional centers with educational programs and consulting patients.
  • Promoting pre-emptive transplantation for younger ones and PD dialysis for patients in remote areas.

In 2011, she founded the Nephrology Development Clinical Center to further advance nephrology in Georgia.

She commented on the award, “My whole career looks like an endless struggle to achieve equity in good nephrology practice for Georgian patients.”