Miroslav Klain worked on many projects during 40 years in Anesthesiology

Miroslav Klain

Miroslav Klain, professor emeritus in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, died on May 18, 2019.

Klain was born in 1927 in Czechoslovakia. He trained as a physician at Charles University in Prague (MUDr., 1951) and earned a PhD as well. He began his medical career as a cardiac surgeon.

He first came to the U.S. in 1965 when he completed a one-year research fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. At the end of that year, he returned to Prague, but when the Soviets invaded, he and his wife, Eva, moved to Austria and soon found refuge in the U.S., moving to Texas with their two children and all the possessions they could carry. They returned to Cleveland, where Klain was hired to direct artificial heart development at the Cleveland Clinic.

He eventually shifted his research and clinical focus to anesthesiology. A lecture Klain gave in 1972 resulted in a job offer at the Pitt Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine/UPMC Presbyterian, beginning his 40-year relationship with the department.

Klain contributed to numerous projects over the years, most notably his early work with high-frequency ventilation and his contributions as a co-inventor on seven U.S. patents awarded between 1990 and 2002 related to portable cardiopulmonary bypass apparatuses and aortic balloon catheters.

He was a member of an interdisciplinary team of researchers known as the University of Pittsburgh Disaster Reanimatology Study Group (DRSG), which, in partnership with a team of Russian and Armenian physicians, conducted the first international interdisciplinary disaster evaluation research field survey study of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia. The Armenia study led to a series of post-disaster field studies by the DRSG in Costa Rica (1991), Turkey (1993), and Japan (1994).

These studies helped to establish the "Golden 24 Hours" of emergency response in disasters and inspired Norwegian anesthesiologist and humanitarian Knut Ole Sundnes to establish the Task Force of Quality Control of Disaster Management under the auspices of the Nordic Society of Disaster Medicine and World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine.

In 2006, Klain retired from Pitt and UPMC but continued to serve on the department’s Resident Education Committee for several years.

Klain met his wife, Eva, at a hospital in Czechoslovakia where he was working as a doctor and Eva as an X-ray technician. He was a polyglot, speaking English, German, Czech, Russian, Latin, and several other languages.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children and six grandchildren who live in Prague, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

— Edited and reprinted from the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine website.