Miami doctor James Jude, 87, who pioneered CPR, dies

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.

Before Jude’s brainstorm, 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.

“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.

Jude, born June 7, 1928, in Maple Lake, Minn., 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.