The development of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: an interview with Dr. John J. ‘Jack’ Downes

Authors

  • Christine L. Mai,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, and Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
    2. Department of Anesthesia, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA, USA
    • Departments of Anesthesia, Critical Care Medicine & Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Mark S. Schreiner,

    1. Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
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  • Paul G. Firth,

    1. Departments of Anesthesia, Critical Care Medicine & Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Anesthesia, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Myron Yaster

    1. Departments of Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, and Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
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Correspondence

Dr Christine L. Mai, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care Medicine & Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA

Email: cmai1@partners.org

Summary

Dr. John J. ‘Jack’ Downes (1930–), the anesthesiologist-in-chief at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (1972–1996), has made numerous contributions to pediatric anesthesia and critical care medicine through a broad spectrum of research on chronic respiratory failure, status asthmaticus, postoperative risks of apnea in premature infants, and home-assisted mechanical ventilation. However, his defining moment was in January 1967, when The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia inaugurated its pediatric intensive care unit—the first of its kind in North America. During his tenure, he and his colleagues trained an entire generation of pediatric anesthesiologists and intensivists and set a standard of care and professionalism that continues to the present day. Based on an interview with Dr. Downes, this article reviews a career that advanced pediatric anesthesia and critical care medicine and describes the development of that first pediatric intensive care unit at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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