Last modified on December 19th, 2016 at 1:16 pm

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Anti-choking Pioneering Doctor Henry Heimlich Passes Away at 96

Inventor of anti-choking procedure, which has brought him both fame and criticism, dies– widely acknowledged as the inventor of the anti-choking manoeuvre named after him.

Anti-choking Pioneering Doctor Henry Heimlich Passes Away at 96

Last updated on December 19th, 2016 at 01:16 pm

The year 2016 has been witness to quite a few deaths of famous people, Henry Judah Heimlich joining the list on December 17, 2016. An American Thoracic surgeon, he was the inventor of the Heimlich manoeuvre, a procedure involving abdominal thrusts to stop people from choking.

The abdominal thrusts or Heimlich Manoeuvre is supposed to be a life-saving first aid procedure used to prevent choking from foreign objects that can block the afflicted person’s airway passage.

The Heimlich manoeuvre is named after Dr Henry Heimlich who first demonstrated it in 1974.

In order to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on a person choking on a foreign object, a rescuer has to stand behind the patient and use his/her arms to wrap it around the patient, like hugging a person from the back, and squeezing or exerting pressure on the lower part of the diaphragm.

Dr.Henry Heimlich used his maneuver on fellow resident Patty Ris, 87, to dislodge a piece of hamburger from her airway, employees at Deupree House .on May 27 (Photo-Reuters)
Dr.Henry Heimlich used his maneuver on fellow resident Patty Ris, 87, to dislodge a piece of hamburger from her airway, employees at Deupree House .on May 27 (Photo-Reuters)

This causes the lungs to compress and force the lodged object out of the windpipe or trachea.

The modern recommendations for the procedure, including those of the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, and the European Resuscitation Council involves several stages in treating windpipe or trachea obstruction.

The contemporary protocol recommends the following first aid steps for rescuing a choking person in the order mentioned:

* Urging the victim to a cough

* Hard backslaps or thumps on the back

* Applying the abdominal thrusts or the Heimlich manoeuvre is recommended as the final option – the last resort

However, there are some directives which recommend alternating between back slaps and abdominal thrusts, if coughing doesn’t dislodge the obstructing object.

The European Resuscitation Council and the Mayo clinic advocate five back slaps followed by five abdominal thrusts, the procedure to continue until the foreign object is expelled – this recommendation is for severe windpipe blockage.

The Heimlich Manoeuvre, initially recommended by Dr Henry Judah Heimlich as a first aid treatment for drowning and asthma attacks, is not an approved method for such cases according to the Red Cross.

The Heimlich Manoeuvre for drowning rescue is not encouraged by the American Heart Association, as well, terming it unproven and dangerous.

The use of the abdominal thrust could lead to vomiting resulting in pulmonary aspiration the consequences of which can be pneumonia, death within minutes from asphyxiation or no injury at all – if one is lucky enough.

 Dr. Henry heimlich demonstrates the heimlich maneuver on host Johnny Carson on April 4, 1979
Dr. Henry heimlich demonstrates the heimlich maneuver on host Johnny Carson on April 4, 1979 (Photo; GettyImages)

Henry Heimlich was born on February 3, 1920, and at the age of 31 in 1951 he married Jane Murray who happened to be the daughter of the ballroom dancing entrepreneur Arthur Murray.

Jane Murray Heimlich is known to have co-authored a book on Homeopathy called “Homeopathic Medicine at Home” together with Maesimund B. Panos.

The couple had four children from their marriage – Phil Heimlich, Peter Heimlich, Janet Heimlich and Elisabeth Heimlich.

Phil Heimlich is a former Cincinnati elected official turned conservative Christian radio talk-show host, while his brother Peter Heimlich runs a website in which he accuses his late father of “wide-ranging, unseen 50-year history of fraud.”

Henry’s daughter Janet is a freelance reporter – not much is known about his other daughter Elisabeth.

It would be noteworthy to mention that Henry Judah Heimlich himself used the manoeuvre on May 23, 2016, successfully saving the life of Patti Ris, a fellow resident of his senior living community.

In 1980, his TV series for children, “H.E.L.P!: Dr Henry’s Emergency Lessons for People,” won a daytime Emmy Award.

“I know that my celebrity status has helped others … giving them a power they might not have known they possessed,” the doctor wrote in his 2014 memoir, “Heimlich’s Maneuvers.” According to his estimation, the procedure had saved more than 100,000 lives.

The inventor of the controversial manoeuvre passed away on December 17, 2016, at the Christ Hospital as a result of heart attack complications.

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