Modern medicine was “going to the dogs” when Dr. James Jude, a young resident at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the late 1950s, pioneered a new life-saving technique.
Jude, observing his colleagues Dr. William Kouwenhoven, the developer of the defibrillator, and graduate student Guy Knickerbocker’s work with fibrillating dogs, figured that pressure applied rhythmically with the heel of the hand to the center of the chest could jump-start the heart and save lives.
Jude, a Miami thoracic surgeon called the “father of modern cardiopulmonary resuscitation” in a 1983 Miami Herald medical story, developed CPR in 1960.
He died Tuesday in Coral Gables at 87 of complications from a rare Parkinson’s disease-related ailment.
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Before Jude’s brainstorm, which led to hundreds of scientific articles and two of his books, including Fundamentals of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, patients were out of luck until they reached a hospital. There, before CPR, doctors had to slit the chest to manually massage the heart to try and get it beating again — like something out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
“He was told he had to have 100 successful resuscitations before he could present it — that was accomplished quickly,” said his wife of nearly 64 years, Sallye Jude, a prominent South Florida preservationist.
In 1963, CPR was formally endorsed by the American Heart Association.
Jude, a 1953 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, helped train colleagues and firefighters in the procedure. His work with CPR brought him to Miami in 1964, where he became chief of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine and Jackson Memorial Hospital.
In Miami, he also worked in private practice from 1971 to 2000 and performed surgeries at numerous hospitals including Mercy, Baptist and Northridge General in Fort Lauderdale.
CPR eventually became commonplace with lifeguards, paramedics and just regular people. In 2012, an American Heart Association campaign promoted proper CPR rhythm technique by advising the general public to press the chest area to the 103 beats-per-minute tempo of the Bee Gees’ classic Stayin’ Alive.
Jude, born June 7, 1928, in Maple Lake, Minnesota, seemed modest when he told a Herald reporter in 1983, “It has been beneficial, even at its worst, and we are saving an awful lot of lives.”
His children echo that. “I'm so proud of my father and the impact that his development of cardiopulmonary resuscitation has had in saving millions of lives around the world. He always wanted to impact people's lives in a positive way,” said son Peter Jude, public relations director at Kendall Regional Medical Center.
In addition to his wife and son, Jude is survived by children Roderick, John, Cecilia Prahl, Victoria Steele, Robert and Christopher; 14 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and his sister, Monica Loch.
A visitation will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S. Dixie Hwy., Pinecrest. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Augustine Catholic Church, 1400 Miller Rd., Coral Gables. Memorials can be made to the Heart & Vascular Institute at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
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