Serendipitous Discoveries “Happen in Medicine All the Time”

(p. 18) In the late 1950s, Dr. Jude was a resident at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, experimenting with induced hypothermia as a way to stop blood flow to the heart by cooling it down and allowing surgical procedures to be performed without fatal loss of blood.
In experiments with rats, he found that hypothermia often caused cardiac arrest, a problem that two electrical engineers down the hall were addressing in experimental work on dogs, using a defibrillator to send electrical shocks to the heart. William Kouwenhoven, the inventor of a portable defibrillator, and G. Guy Knickerbocker, a doctoral student, had seen that the mere weight of the defibrillator paddles stimulated cardiac activity when pressed against a dog’s chest.
Dr. Jude immediately saw the potential for human medicine and began working with the two men.
In July 1959, when a 35-year-old woman being anesthetized for a gall bladder operation went into cardiac arrest, Dr. Jude, instead of using the standard technique of opening the chest and massaging the heart directly, applied rhythmic, manual pressure.
“Her blood pressure came back at once,” he recalled. “We didn’t have to open up her chest. They went ahead and did the operation on her, and she recovered completely.”
. . .
Dr. Jude played down his importance in developing CPR, a breakthrough that The Journal of the American Medical Association had recently compared to the discovery of penicillin.
“It was just serendipity — being in the right place at the right time and working on something for which there was an obvious need,” he told the alumni newsletter of the University of St. Thomas in 1984. “Things like that happen in medicine all the time.”

For the full obituary, see:
WILLIAM GRIMES. “Dr. James Jude Dies at 87; Helped Develop Use of CPR.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., AUG. 2, 2015): 18.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date AUG. 1, 2015, and has the title “Dr. James Jude, Who Helped Develop Use of CPR, Dies at 87.”)

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