New York Times 12/29/96

William Howland, an Expert in Anesthesiology, Dies at 77


[Dr. Virginia Apgar and Dr. William Howland were good friends - eric apgar]

William Stapleton Howland, an anesthesiologist whose work improved the survival chances of patients undergoing extensive blood transfusions on the operating table, died on Tuesday at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital in Vermont. A resident of Guilford, Vt., he was 77 and formerly lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

He suffered a long Illness, his family said.

Dr. Howland moved to Vermont in 1987 after retiring as chairman of the department of critical care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he spent most of his career. He was also professor of anesthesiology in surgery at Cornell University Medical College from 1968 until he reached emeritus status in 1987.

His clinical research led to innovative methods to safeguard patients in surgery who require heavy transfusions. He developed the technique for warming blood drawn cold from the blood bank, thus reducing the risk of cardiac arrest in the operating room or immediately thereafter in recovery. He was widely recognized as an expert in the care of critically ill cancer victims.

Dr. Howland wrote eight books and edited the "Manual of Anesthesia in Cancer Care." He contributed more than 300 articles, abstracts and book chapters.

He was a past president of the New York State Society of Anesthesiologists, an adviser to the World Health Organization, a consultant for the Bureau of Biologics in the Food and Drug Administration, a director of the American Blood Commission and member of the editorial board of the Year Book of Cancer.

He was born in Savannah, Ga., and graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1941. He received his medical degree from Columbia University in 1944 and finished his internship in surgery and residence in urology at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. He served in the Army Medical Corps as chief of urology at a military hospital in Bremerhaven, Germany.

In 1950, he completed his residency in anesthesiology at Presbyterian Hospital and joined its staff of specialists. He was appointed an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University in 1953, the year he became chief of anesthesiology at Memorial Hospital, which is now Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

In 1955, he was chosen as an associate in the Division of Experimental Surgery at the Sloan-Kettering Institute, where he established the Experimental Anesthesiology Section In 1956 and directed it for 10 years.

He held a number of leading positions at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, including vice president for clinical affairs and deputy chief medical officer, sometimes concurrently. He was named to the department of critical care in 1976 and became chairman two years later.

Dr. Howland is survived by his wife, Miriam Adams Howland, a public-health educator; a son and daughter from a previous marriage, William Jr., of Scarsdale, N.Y., and Karen H. Falk of Enfield, Conn.; a brother, William A. Howland, and a sister, Mary H. Leavitt, both of Alexandria, Va., and two grandchildren. An earlier marriage, to Ruth Snyder of Hillsdale, N.J., ended in divorce.