Tattoos Can Save Lives! (8-1-1950)

On this date, the city’s health experts were urging all Chicagoans to get a tattoo.

Dr. Ivy

Dr. Ivy

The Soviet Union had developed an atomic bomb, the Korean War was raging, and the Chicago Civilian Defense Committee painted a grim picture of what might happen if The Bomb were dropped on the Loop. Dr. Andrew Ivy said that a nuclear blast would kill 61,000 people outright and injure 231,000. In such an event, emergency blood transfusions would be necessary. Treatment would be easier if a victim had a tattoo identifying blood type.

Dr. Ivy suggested that the best place for this tattoo would be below the left armpit, an area that would likely be protected from the blast. However, Dr. Henrietta Herbolsheimer, the only woman on the committee, said that future fashions in women’s clothing were difficult to predict, so a location on the inside of a leg might be better.  The committee said that a list of facilities where the public might obtain the medical tattoo was being developed.

It doesn’t seem that this program became widespread.  Perhaps tattoos should have been part of the Affordable Care Act.

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1 Response to “Tattoos Can Save Lives! (8-1-1950)”


  1. 1 Ed Sachs August 1, 2016 at 9:31 am

    A more 21st century approach would be and implanted RFID chip holding key medical information. We already implant such chips in our dogs and cats.


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