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August 3, 1964

Ancient Accounts of Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation

Author Affiliations

Elmhurst, NY

JAMA. 1964;189(5):383. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070050049024

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To the Editor:—  According to the biblical adage, "There is nothing new under the sun." This certainly seems true regarding mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. This "modern" concept has actually been practiced for many years.In his account of the assassination of President Lincoln, Dr. J. T. Seidensticker (New Eng J Med270: 788 [April 9] 1964) related that Dr. Leale, one of the first to reach the stricken President, employed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.Undoubtedly, other historical descriptions antedate this source. To my knowledge the oldest accounts are found in the Bible. One reference (I Kings 17:21) deals with the prophet Elijah. The text gives this vivid description of his treatment of an unconscious lad: "And he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried unto the Lord.... And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came into him again and he revived."The other reference (II

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