US & Canada

Heimlich manoeuvre inventor dies aged 96

Dr Henry Heimlich, file photo 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Dr Heimlich developed the lifesaving technique in 1974

US doctor Henry Heimlich, who invented the manoeuvre used to help victims of choking, has died aged 96.

Dr Heimlich died at a hospital in the US city of Cincinnati early on Saturday following complications from a heart attack he suffered on Monday, his family says.

Dr Heimlich invented the lifesaving technique, which uses abdominal thrusts to clear a person's airway, in 1974.

In May he used the technique himself to save a woman at his retirement home.

He dislodged a piece of meat with a bone in it from the airway of an 87-year-old woman, telling the BBC: "I didn't know I really could do it until the other day."

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Media captionDr Henry Heimlich describes saving a choking woman

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

In a statement released to the media, Dr Heimlich's 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.

The anti-choking manoeuvre was not Dr Heimlich's only success. In 1962 he developed the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve which was credited with saving many soldiers' lives in the Vietnam War and is still used for patients undergoing chest surgery.

How easy is it to do the Heimlich manoeuvre?

Who has the Heimlich manoeuvre saved?

Since the technique was introduced in 1974 it is believed to have saved the lives of more than 100,000 people in the US alone.

They include former 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.

In 2014 actor Clint Eastwood was credited with saving the life of a golf tournament director in California who was choking on a piece of cheese.

In the UK, celebrity promoter Simon Cowell was reportedly saved by comedian David Walliams, who carried out the Heimlich manoeuvre on him after a mint became stuck in his throat.

Dog saves US owner with Heimlich technique

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