Dr Henry Heimlich, the man who invented the Heimlich maneuver, has died at the age of 96.
Heimlich passed away on Saturday, December 17 at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio following complications from a heart attack suffered four days prior.
“My father was a great man who saved many lives,” said his son, Phil Heimlich. “He will be missed not only by his family but by all of humanity.”
Heimlich was born on February 3, 1920 in Wilmington, Delaware. He became a doctor in 1943 after receiving his M.D. from the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
In June 1974, while he was the director of surgery at the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, he published his views on a maneuver that could prevent people from choking. That same month, it was used to saved someone’s life at a restaurant in Washington.
Heimlich devised the maneuver after learning that thousands of people died annually from choking. According to The Independent, his team of researchers “tested the technique by putting a tube with a balloon at one end down an anesthetized dog’s airway until it choked. Dr Heimlich then used the manoeuvre to force the dog to expel the obstruction.”
The BBC said that since the technique was introduced, more than 100,000 people have been saved in the US alone. And he also developed the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve in 1962, which saved many soldiers’ lives in the Vietnam War.
Interestingly, Heimlich had not actually performed the maneuver himself on a person in an emergency until May this year, when he saved the life of a woman choking at his retirement home.