University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor Peter Safar, M.D., a pioneering anesthesiologist and critical care specialist who developed the modern techniques of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, cardiopulmonary-cerebral resuscitation and basic, advanced and prolonged life support, died Sunday night at age 79, university officials say.
"Peter Safar was an incredible man who not only saved a countless number of lives through his work but influenced generations through his genius, elegance, humanism and remarkable purpose," Patrick Kochanek, M.D., director of the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research at the University of Pittsburgh, says in a written statement. "I don't think a day went by that Peter didn't do something good for mankind."
Safar founded the International Resuscitation Research Center in 1979, where he mentored 60 physicians and 20 medical student researchers over a 15-year period, according to school officials. The University of Pittsburgh re-named the center in his honor after Safar retired in 1994.
Earlier this year, the World Association for Disaster Medicine named its annual award after Safar, based on his three decades of research on disaster reanimatology and cerebral resuscitation from prolonged cardiac arrest.
Prior to establishing the research institution, Safar developed and chaired anesthesiology departments at the National Cancer Institute in Lima, Peru, Baltimore City Hospital (now known as Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center) and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He began his affiliation with UPMC in 1961.
While at Baltimore City Hospital in the 1950s, Safar documented what has come to be known as CPR step A-opening of the airway-and step B-mouth-to-mouth rather than artificial manual ventilation, UPMC says. He added step C-closed-chest cardiac massage-to create basic life support.
In 1961 Safar extended CPR into CPCR with the nine-step sequence of basic, advanced and prolonged life support, now a staple of critical care medicine.
He was a founding member of the American Heart Association's CPR Committee and, in the 1960s, helped write the first guidelines on CPR, ambulance design and equipment, emergency medical technician and paramedic training.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Safar studied pathology, oncology and surgery at the University of Vienna and at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. He trained in anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1950 to 1952.
Safar is survived by his wife, Eva, and sons Philip and Paul. A daughter, Elizabeth, died in 1966, according to UPMC.