The Anesthesia Memorial Foundation began in 1956 as a tax-exempt organization affiliated with ASA. It was established by officers of ASA and their legal counsel to “aid in the improvement and advancement of anesthesia …” and as a recipient organization for those who wanted to memorialize anesthesiologists. The articles of incorporation of the Foundation stated that one of the Foundation’s aims was to “loan or give money to deserving persons to assist them in becoming specialists in anesthesia or for research or study in the field of anesthesia or related fields … .” The initial funds came from a contribution from the Ohio Society of Anesthesiologists and a loan, again, based on documented need, from ASA that was later converted to a grant.

In 1984, the name was changed to The Anesthesia Foundation and incorporation was moved from Ohio to Illinois. In its first 40 years, The Anesthesia Foundation granted 899 loans to 723 individuals for a total of $3,529,400. The recipients represent every state that has (or had) an anesthesiology residency program. The Anesthesia Foundation recirculates all the monies that are repaid on loans, and the assets increase by loan interest income, investment income and gifts from individuals, component societies and industry. As the assets increase, the Foundation increases the number of loans that can be granted.

In addition to its standard residency loan program, The Anesthesia Foundation has stepped up to help residents and early career anesthesiologists when natural disasters have impacted their financial well-being.  In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Ochsner Clinic and Tulane University anesthesiology training programs were severely disrupted.  Within weeks, The Anesthesia Foundation made grants and additional loans to residents with personal losses totaling $173,500 using its reserve funds.  At the same time, the ASA established a Katrina Disaster Relief Fund to allow members to contribute to the relief efforts.  At the October 2006 ASA Annual Meeting, the ASA Katrina Disaster Relief Fund replenished The Anesthesia Foundation funds in full.  In 2017, 16 residents and fellows in the Houston area were identified by The Anesthesia Foundation and the Texas Society of Anesthesiologists to have suffered severe unreimbursed losses and expenses from Hurricane Harvey. The Anesthesia Foundation provided these 16 residents with unrestricted grants to aid in their recovery totaling $20,300.  In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented economic pressure for early career anesthesiologists.  The Anesthesia Foundation COVID-19 Loan Program for Early Career Anesthesiologists offered no interest loans up to $7500 for 2 years to ASA members who are early in their career.  The Anesthesia Foundation dedicated over one half of its reserve assets to this program and the ASA generously supported the effort with a $500,000 interest free loan.  Within one month, The Anesthesia Foundation paid out 116 loans totaling $862,500.  For all of these extraordinary relief endeavors, The Anesthesia Foundation would like to thank all the members of the ASA and state component societies that have contributed to the Foundation in support of these activities.