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The man who invented the Heimlich manoeuvre has died aged 96

The abdominal thrust rescue, invented in 1974, is thought to have saved tens of thousands of lives.

Dr. Henry Heimlich holds his memoirs prior to being interviewed at his home in Cincinnati in 2014.
Dr. Henry Heimlich holds his memoirs prior to being interviewed at his home in Cincinnati in 2014.
Image: Al Behrman/PA

DR HENRY HEIMLICH, the man who gave his name to a famous technique that saved the lives of countless choking victims, has died aged 96.

A thoracic surgeon, Heimlich died at a nursing home in Cincinnati, Ohio following a heart attack.

The Heimlich Manoeuvre,  which he invented in 1974 after seeing people choke – and some die – in restaurants, is thought to have saved tens of thousands of lives.

To perform it, a person stands behind the choking victim and applies pressure to the lower diaphragm with his or her hands.

Compressing the air in the lungs in this fashion can force the foreign object out of the trachea.

The many people whose lives have thus been saved include former president Ronald Reagan, and the actresses Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor.

Heimlich himself had employed the manoeuvre a few months ago to save the life of a fellow retiree at his nursing home, an 87-year-old woman.

But he was also the centre of controversy more than once.

Heimlich had advocated the use of the manoeuvre for other purposes – to save drowning victims or to help asthma sufferers – that never gained a following.

And in his later years, he had advocated exposing AIDS victims to malaria, a treatable disease, to boost their resistance.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Boy with autism saves his classmate with Heimlich manoeuvre he learned on SpongeBob

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