Miles H. Sigler, 81, pioneer in kidney dialysis

Miles H. Sigler, 81, a pioneer in the field of kidney dialysis and founder of the nephrology division at Lankenau Hospital, died Monday, Nov. 29, of complications from dementia at Sunrise Assisted Living of Haverford.

Dr. Sigler joined Lankenau Hospital, in Wynnewood, in 1963 and directed its nephrology division for more than 40 years.

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Miles H. Sigler

He was known for developing Lankenau's kidney-transplant program in 1994 and obtained state approval to get it fully certified, said Brendan Teehan, Dr. Sigler's medical partner of 35 years. The program was the first of its kind in Philadelphia's suburbs, Teehan said.

Dr. Sigler helped introduce a technique called slow continuous hemodialysis, in which postoperative patients have their blood cleaned around the clock. It helps fragile patients, Teehan said, "because it doesn't challenge their blood pressure."

"He was one of the pioneers, but not the only pioneer - they were doing it at the University of California, San Diego," said Teehan. "He wrote some of the principal equations that governed how the therapy would be delivered."

He and Teehan started Nephrology Associates, which provided the Main Line's first dialysis program in the early 1970s, Teehan said.

"He was very caring and very thorough," Teehan said. "If a patient got really sick on his watch, he would be very upset. He was a really devoted doctor."

Dr. Sigler was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised in Richmond, Va., and later back in Buffalo. The Eagle scout graduated from Bennett High School in 1947 as president of his class.

In 1951, Dr. Sigler graduated from the University of Rochester. While there, he met his wife, the former Elaine Aser. The two were married for 56 years and raised their family in Mount Airy and on the Main Line.

Dr. Sigler graduated from Cornell University Medical School in 1955 and served his residency in internal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. He completed a nephrology fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

From 1958 to 1960, he served as a medical officer in the U.S. Army's Operation Bootstrap in Puerto Rico and was discharged at the rank of captain. It was during this period that he became interested in medical research, his family said.

In his free time, Dr. Sigler played tennis at Idle Hour Tennis Club in Drexel Hill. He was so fond of cookies that friends and family laughingly called him the Cookie Monster, said his son-in-law Link Hart.

"He did have a sweet tooth," Teehan said.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are daughters Allison and Gwen Miriam; a son, Philip; a granddaughter; and many nieces and nephews. A brother, Paul, died earlier.

A service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Ave., Wynnewood. The family will sit shivah following interment.

Memorial donations may be made to Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, c/o Director, Philanthropy and Business Development, 100 E. Lancaster Ave., Wynnewood, Pa. 19096.


Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.