Who Invented CPR?


CPR stands for Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. It is one of the most important and universally practiced first-aid methods in the world. CPR is the only first aid treatment proven to save the life of a cardiac arrest victim until further help is arrives.

Invention of CPR

CPR was invented by Austrian surgeon Peter Safar. Safar was born in Vienna on the 12th of April, 1924. Both is parents worked in the medical profession. His father was a surgeon and his mother was a pediatrician. He studied medicine in the University of Vienna where he got his M.D. in 1948. Safer then specialized in surgery and oncology before traveling to Connecticut in 1950. There he studied at the Yale New Haven Hospital. Two years later he also completed studies in anesthesiology at the University of Philadelphia.

Safar later got a job in Lima, Peru as overseer of the anesthesiology department there. Later he transferred to Baltimore, Maryland to do similar work. It was there he did research on current life saving techniques. Safer combined three existing methods in one: mouth to mouth resuscitation, head tilting and chest massage (or cardiac massage). These formed the basis for what will become the famous CPR technique.

A humble man, Safar never tried to claim originality for his invention. He always said that he only put together techniques that were already known in his time. instead he worked hard to disseminate knowledge of CPR to as many people as people. He called the method “ABC” – for airway, breathing and heart circulation. Safar made progress in other areas of medicine as well. He helped build the biggest anesthesiology department in the country in Pittsburgh in 1961. There he devoted himself to improving critical care techniques and ambulance service. Safar invented the first intensive care unit or ICU in the United States.

Unfortunately, Peter Safar could not save his own daughter’s life. She was only 11 years old when she died from asthma in 1966. While doctors could keep her lungs and heart going, they couldn’t review her brain and she slipped into a coma. This caused Safar to invent CPCR or Cardio Pulmonary Cerebral Resuscitation.

Even after this tragedy, Safar remained active in the medical field to the end of his days. His published writings amounted to 1,300 papers, 30 books and 600 abstracts. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Safar died on the 3rd of August, 2003 at 79 years old.

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