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Pitt's Historic Impact

Bringing the Dying Back From the Brink


Before Peter Safar made his mark, emergency medicine focused on wounds and broken bones, not bringing the dying back from the brink.

Safar, the son of two Viennese doctors, was spared the death camps in World War II with help from the Austrian resistance, and in gratitude threw himself into “a life of workaholism” training as an anesthesiologist.

He soon recognized that his skills in life support and resuscitation could be used to save the lives of critically ill patients. He went on to conduct the seminal research in the techniques that would eventually result in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. Later, at the Pitt research center that would eventually bear his name, Safar proved that inducing mild hypothermia soon after cardiac arrest would protect the brain from damage.