To the Editor:‐The beautiful article about Dr. Austin Lamont by Stanley Muravchick and Henry Rosenberg (Anesthesiology 1996; 84:436–41), is one of several highly deserved tributes to this pioneer in academic anesthesiology. Having been an anesthesiology resident with him at the University of Pennsylvania in 1950–52, I would like to add some personal memories.
Because of an oversubscribed immigration quota for Austrians, my wife Eva and I went to Lima, Peru where in 1953 I initiated Peru's first academic department of anesthesiology. Without Lamont's and Dripps's interventions, we may not have obtained the then necessary special preference immigration visa (for needed specialists) to return to the US and become US citizens. Without Lamont's advice, I might not have gone to the Johns Hopkins Hospital (1954–55) and from there to Baltimore City Hospital as the first full‐time chief of the department of anesthesiology (1955–61). Without these experiences, I would not have been prepared for the first chairmanship of the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
After all anesthesiologists of the Johns Hopkins Hospital division of anesthesiology resigned in the summer of 1955 because of the impossibility to develop an academic anesthesiology department and residency there, Lamont shared with me his experiences at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Later, after an invitation by Johns Hopkins historian, Magee Harvey, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, I submitted my biased reflections on four historic attempts to establish a strong academic anesthesiology department at the Johns Hopkins Hospital‐under Lamont and Harmel in the 1940s; Proctor, Safar, and Bachman in the 1950s; Benson in the 1960s; and Nagel in the 1970s. In the 1980s, Rogers et al., finally succeeded.
Austin was modest. In 1957, I showed him the Guedel airway I had modified with a mouthpiece for mouth‐to‐tube ventilation. He suggested replacing the straight mouthpiece with a turned around pediatric airway so it could also be used for children by turning it around. He asked for no credit.
Austin was compassionate. For our severely asthmatic daughter, he arranged for a consultation on the then not popular aerosol treatments. When she died in 1966, Lamont said: “When suffering becomes unbearable, nature (God) often lifts the burden.” This applied to him at the end, when he died in 1969.
Austin was an academician with principles. He quietly influenced me and other residents to consider research careers by making Claude Bernard's book An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine his farewell gift.
Austin was the best representative of American aristocracy. We miss him.
Peter Safar, M.D.
Safar Center for Resuscitation Research; University of Pittsburgh; 3434 Fifth Avenue; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
(Accepted for publication April 25, 1997.)
© 1997 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.