Henry Heimlich, Maneuver Inventor, Dies

The famed surgeon, whose signature maneuver to clear the blockage in a choking victim’s throat, helped save thousands of lives.

By | December 20, 2016

WIKIMEDIA, MB298Henry Heimlich, the thoracic surgeon who developed an antichoking technique that has saved numerous lives, died in Cincinnati on Saturday (December 17) after suffering a heart attack. He was 96.

Heimlich invented the technique that shared his name in the 1970s, and the Heimlich maneuver eventually became a standard module of first-aid and life-saving courses. The maneuver essentially involved hugging a choking victim from behind and delivering a series of upward thrusts to their diaphragm to force air outwards, propelling obstructions from their airways. Earlier this year, Heimlich even used his maneuver to save the life of 87-year-old Patty Ris, who was choking on a hamburger at the senior residence where they both lived. “I’m proud and happy—I would've died,” Ris told CNN.

“My father was a great man who saved many lives,” Phil Heimlich, Henry’s son, told STAT News. “He will be missed not only by his family but by all of humanity.”

Though his claim to fame was the antichoking maneuver he developed, Heimlich also invented other successful tools and techniques for thoracic surgery. These included a valve to drain the thoracic cavities of people suffering massive chest wounds, and a method for teaching stroke victims to swallow again. 

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