Posted on: November 5, 2021
Haakon Ragde was born on July 26, 1927 in Odda, Norway, and passed April 17, 2021 in Bellevue, Washington. An innovator and pioneer, he dared to dream and changed the world.
Haak fled Norway as a young teenager after he was targeted by German occupiers. After WWII he was granted a visa to the United States and he served in the Korean War where he earned a Purple Heart. Becoming a US citizen, he graduated from medical school at the University of Virginia and specialized in urologic surgery and immuno-hematology.
Ragde met Senator Henry Scoop Jackson while running a civilian hospital in Danang, Vietnam and they became fast friends. He came to settle in Seattle at Scoop’s behest where he married, had children, built a house with his own hands, and invested in commercial fishing boats. He traveled with Scoop to China, chaired Jackson’s campaign for re-election to the US Senate in 1976, and advised Jackson’s presidential campaign.
Ragde continuously advanced novel medical treatments. He performed the first successful kidney transplant in Washington State; he was part of the team that developed bone marrow transplantation — for which team leader Don Thomas won the Nobel Prize. He introduced several new technologies to treat prostate cancer and is credited with pioneering brachytherapy, i.e. radioactive seed implantation. He later focused on stimulating the immune system to fight cancer. The Pacific Northwest Cancer Foundation, Northwest Biotherapeutics, Inc., and the Haakon Ragde Foundation are among the ventures he founded to advance immunotherapy.
Haakon is survived by his son Eric Ragde, his daughter Kristina Ragde, and his extended family.