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October 24, 1996

Robert Hingson

Robert Hingson, 83, former professor of public health in Pitt's School of Medicine and chief anesthesiologist at Magee Women's Hospital, died Oct. 9 in Lake City, Fla., from complications of polymyocetis.

Hingson also was founder of the Pittsburgh-based The Brother's Brother Foundation, a volunteer, interfaith group dedicated to linking America's resources to global health care and other assistance for the needy.

In addition, Hingson is well known in the medical world as a pioneer in the use of epidural anesthesia for childbirth and jet injection for mass immunization, and as inventor of the Western Reserve Midget, a portable, manual respirator. He is author of the books "Control of Pain in Childbirth" and "Anesthesia for Obstetrics," and co-author of "Pitkins Conduction of Anesthesia." "Robert Hingson lived a full life during which he made unique contributions to the development of anesthesiology, and the health and longevity of humans worldwide," said Peter Safar, distinguished service professor in Pitt's Safar Center for Resuscitation Research.

"The death of this unique, medical missionary seems like a star fell out of the sky," Safar continued, "but his legacy will live on among anesthesiologists worldwide and through the works of his son, Luke Hingson, who is leading The Brother's Brother Foundation." Born in Anniston, Ala., on April 13, 1913, Hingson earned his Bachelor's of Arts degree from the University of Alabama in 1938 and his medical degree from Emory University's School of Medicine in 1938.

Following a brief stint in the U.S. Public Health Service, Hingson served as chief medical officer on various Coast Guard and Navy ships in the North Atlantic in 1939-1940. While on board the USS Campbell, he helped to rescue 200 passengers of the Athenia at the outbreak of World War II.

During the war, Hingson served as chief of anesthesiology at the U.S. Marine Hospital on Staten Island, N. Y., and as director of research and anesthesia at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

After the war, Hingson became the first professor of anesthesiology at the University of Tennessee's School of Medicine. In 1948, his interest in childbirth and pain led him to Johns Hopkins University and Case Western Reserve University, then, in 1968, to Pitt and Magee Women's Hospital.

Hingson left Pitt in 1973 to devote himself to the humanitarian work of The Brother's Brother Foundation, which he founded in 1958.

Since its founding, The Brother's Brother Foundation has distributed $560 million worth of medical supplies, textbooks, seeds, food and other assistance to more than 40 million people in over 100 countries. For his efforts, Hingson was recognized with the President's Award for International Volunteerism in 1987.

Hingson is survived by his wife, Gussie; a daughter, Roberta Hingson of Seneca, S. C.; four sons, Dickson of Los Angeles, Andrew of Westport, Conn., Ralph of Boston and Luke of Pittsburgh; a brother, James of Greenbackville, Va., and four grandchildren.

Memorial gifts can be sent The Brother's Brother Foundation, 1501 Reedsdale St., Suite 305, Pittsburgh, 15233-2341.

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 5

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