December 19, 2003 by

Charles Benjamin Ripstein


Categories: Medicine

cripstein.jpgDr. Charles Benjamin Ripstein, a world renowned surgeon, died on Dec. 13 after a long illness. He was 90.

Born in Winnipeg, Ripstein earned his M.D. from McGill University School of Medicine in 1940. During World War II, he served as a squadron leader in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Ripstein returned to Canada to complete his surgical rotation at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal before moving to the United States. Within three years, he became a full professor at the State University of New York Downstate, and the director of surgery at Maimonides Hospital.

An early pioneer of open heart and mitral valve surgery, Ripstein was one of the first doctors to perform open heart surgery under cryogenic conditions. He also discovered that Thorazine cured the hiccups. After learning of his research, the Vatican persuaded Pope Pius XII to treat his intractable hiccups with the drug. Ripstein’s treatment was a success. Board-certified in general, thoracic, and colon and rectal surgery, Ripstein was best known for developing a method to repair rectal prolapse. The procedure was even named after him.

The pope wasn’t his only famous patient. As the first director of surgery at the newly established Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Ripstein was one of the last doctors called in on consultation to perform an operation on the genius. Einstein, who was dying of a ruptured aneurysm, eventually refused the procedure.

Ripstein later served as director of surgery at Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the clinical staff at Cornell University Medical College, as a clinical professor of surgery at the University of Miami and on the medical staff of The Miami Heart Institute.

5 Responses to Charles Benjamin Ripstein

  1. Arnold Winters

    Dr. Ripstein saved my life. In 1952, he performed heart surgery on me to correct a congenital patent ductus arteriosis. This defect was discovered by a NYC school physicial who heard a murmur. I had no idea that Dr. Ripstein was associated with helping the Pope and Albert Einstein. I am now 57 years old.

  2. Admirer

    Why do we hear so much about sports and entertainment figures, but never about these kinds of men who do so good for medicine and society?
    We need more people like Dr. Ripstein.

  3. Arthur Drazan

    I had
    a subtotal gastrectomy performed by him for bleeding ulcer.
    Recovered and am well for fifty years or more.
    A fine gentleman and a wonderful surgeon.
    He will be missed by many who knew him at Brookdale and elsewhere

  4. chick rudy

    Dr. Ripstein was the best physician and surgeon I knew. His knowledge of medicine was endless; his care for patients was kind and considerate and it is a great loss to the medical community that he is no longer with us.
    Thanks for everything you have done for so many. Chick

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