Dr. Heimlich has died

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The man credited with inventing a maneuver to save choking victims has died at age 96, in Cincinnati, Ohio. There are likely few people on the planet that do not know what the ‘Heimlich maneuver’ is all about.

Dr. Henry J. Heimlich was a thoracic surgeon, medical innovator, and humanitarian. His career was dedicated to finding simple, creative ways to solve complex health problems. While he is best known for inventing the Heimlich Maneuver to save the lives of choking victims, he has developed many other lifesaving medical procedures and devices.

He was the first American surgeon to perform the reversed gastric tube operation, which replaces a damaged or defective esophagus using a tube made from the patient’s stomach; he invented the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve, which saved the lives of thousands of American soldiers during the Vietnam War and continues to be used in hospitals and military organizations around the world; and he developed the Heimlich MicroTrach, which provides a more efficient way for people to take oxygen compared to traditional methods.

A spokesperson for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) stated that Dr. Heimlich suffered a massive heart attack at his home. Heimlich lived in Deupree House, part of an extensive senior’s community, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati, owned and operated by ERS.

‘The community is known not only for its gracious apartments, dining and wellness and fitness programs, but also for the promise of its owner and operator, Episcopal Retirement Services, that no resident will be forced to leave because of financial circumstances.’ www.episcopalretirement.com

Heimlich died at The Christ Hospital (Cincinnati) in the early hours of Saturday, December 17th, 2016. Dr. Heimlich was president of the Heimlich Institute in Cincinnati, an organization that celebrates creativity in medical innovation. He stayed active and engaged throughout his life, writing several books, including ‘Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Livesaving Innovation’, published in 2014.

Heimlich appeared on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ in April 1979, when he famously demonstrated the ‘Heimlich maneuver’ on Carson.

“What makes the Heimlich Maneuver particularly special is this: it is accessible to everyone. Because of its simplicity—and the fact that it works when performed correctly—just about anyone can save a life. Each of us can save the life of a stranger, a neighbor, a spouse, or a child. And it can happen anywhere—in restaurants, homes, ballparks—you name it. You see, you don’t have to be a doctor to save a life. You just have to have knowledge and the instinct to respond in a crisis.”

– Dr. Henry J. Heimlich

The Heimlich family released the following statement on Heimlich’s death:

‘We are saddened by the loss of our father, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, who passed away earlier today at the age of 96.

Dad was a hero to many people around the world for a simple reason: He helped save untold numbers of lives through the innovation of common-sense procedures and devices. But he was not only a physician and medical inventor, he was also a humanitarian and a loving and devoted son, husband, father, and grandfather.

From the time Dad began his medical career in New York City, to the time he practiced 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.

He grew up the son of a social worker in New York State, which deeply influenced his drive to help other people. He loved the ocean and served in the US Navy during World War II, volunteering for extra-hazardous duty, which led to him to working as a doctor behind enemy lines in the Gobi Desert of China. Later, he named his small sailboat, The Repose, after the hospital ship he spent time on after serving in China.

Most know of Dad’s name for the Heimlich Maneuver, the method he devised to save people who are choking. The “maneuver,” as he called it, not only has saved countless lives, it allows anyone, even children, to save the life of a choking victim. But as his memoir, Heimlich’s Maneuvers explains, Dad accomplished much more.

As a young surgeon, Dad was the first American to devise and perform a total organ replacement. Later, he came up with a device that saved thousands of soldiers’ lives during the Vietnam War. The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve is still used worldwide for patients undergoing chest surgery.

Dad was firm in his convictions and passionate for his causes. He didn’t play politics well. Instead, he was single-minded in his quest to find better ways to save lives. Dad dreamed that anything was possible in the field of medicine, even when critics said otherwise.

The family requests that those who wish to honor our father’s legacy make a contribution to Heimlich Heroes, a nonprofit organization that teaches children around the world how to save a life with the Heimlich Maneuver. For more information on the life of Dr. Heimlich or to make a donation to Heimlich Heroes, please visit: http://henryheimlich.com.’