Dr. Henry Heimlich, the surgeon who invented the life-saving Heimlich maneuver, has died, according to NBC News

By Maria Mercedes Lara
December 17, 2016 12:08 PM
Al Behrman/AP

Dr. Henry Heimlich, the surgeon who invented the life-saving Heimlich maneuver, has died, according to NBC News. He was 96.

Heimlich’s son, Phil, told NBC News that his father passed away on Saturday at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week.

“My father was a great man who saved many lives,” Phil, an attorney and former Hamilton County commissioner, told NBC News. “He will be missed not only by his family but by all of humanity.”

According to NBC News, Heimlich was director of surgery at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati in 1974 when he developed the Heimlich maneuver, which involves a series of thrusts to the abdomen to create a flow of air to the lungs in choking victims. The flow of air can then push out objects in the windpipe that are causing choking.

The maneuver was widely adopted by public health authorities and restaurant associations — making Heimlich a household name and saving countless lives.

Charles Krupa/AP

As it turned out, Heimlich had to wait many years to actually use the maneuver himself. In May, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he used the move for the first time earlier this year when coming to the aid of a fellow resident at the Deupree House senior living facility.

“When I used it and [the victim] recovered quickly, it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives,” he said at the time.

The Heimlich maneuver wasn’t his only invention. According to NBC News, he also developed a chest drain valve that was credited with saving soldiers and civilians during the Vietnam war. However, he drew sharp criticism for a theory that injecting patients with a curable form of malaria could trigger immunity against the HIV virus.

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