Inventor of the Heimlich manoeuvre dies aged 96

Henry J Heimlich's anti-choking technique is estimated to have saved 100,000 lives


Henry J Heimlich, the inventor of the eponymous technique used to save victims of choking, has died aged 96.

The ‘Heimlich manoeuvre’ – whereby a choking person is given a bear hug combined with abdominal thrusts – is estimated to have saved 100,000 lives and has been taught in schools and endorsed by medical authorities the world over since its inception in 1974.

The Jewish thoracic surgeon, who died in a hospital in Cincinnati on Saturday after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week, used his own technique in an emergency situation for the first time earlier this year.

On May 23, Dr Heimlich applied his manoeuvre to an 87-year-old woman choking on a piece of meat at Deupree House, their care home in Cincinnati.

According to the New York Times, Dr Heimlich said afterwards: “A piece of meat with a little bone attached flew out of her mouth.”

Dr Heimlich was director of surgery at the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati when he devised the technique.

His family said he had been "a hero to many people around the world".

"From the time Dad began his medical career in New York City, to the time he practised as a thoracic surgeon in Cincinnati, he was committed to coming up with simple, effective ideas that helped save lives and significantly improved people's quality of life," it said.

People said to have been saved by the application of the Heimlich manoeuvre  include former US president Ronald Reagan, pop star Cher, former New York mayor Edward Koch and Hollywood actors Elizabeth Taylor, Goldie Hawn, Walter Matthau, Carrie Fisher, Jack Lemmon and Marlene Dietrich.

Henry Judah Heimlich was born in Wilmington, Deaware, on February 3, 1920, to Philip and Mary Epstein Heimlich.

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