He first performed the maneuver in his retirement home.
The surgeon who donated his name to the procedure used to save people from choking, Dr. Heimlich, performed the Heimlich Maneuver for the first time this week at age 96.
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The technique for dislodging food or objects caught in someone's throat has saved thousands of lives since he invented in 1974.
Last Monday, however, there was a female resident at his retirement home who was choking on her hamburger.
The doctor didn't even hesitate when he spun her around in her chair so that he could administer the thrusts so that the meat could pop out of her throat and she could breathe again.
“It was very gratifying,” Heimlich told the Guardian on Friday. “That moment was very important to me. I knew about all the lives my maneuver has saved over the years and I have demonstrated it so many times but here, for the first time, was someone sitting right next to me who was about to die.”
There was some confusion because a 2003 BBC report quoted him using it in a zoo, but no one in Heimlich's family, nor Heimlich himself, could remember the incident.
The resident is 87-year-old Patty Ris, who was new to the home.
“I did the Heimlich Maneuver – of course,” Heimlich said. “She was going to die if she wasn’t treated. I did it, and a piece of food with some bone in it flew out of her mouth.” He added that the woman never lost consciousness but was very shocked. “I, however, just sat there absolutely smiling as big as I could,” Heimlich said.
The two shared dinner the following night. “She told me how wonderful and fortunate she felt,” he said.
After he developed the maneuver, it quickly became the chosen method of restaurant owners.
The doctor is still fit enough to perform the maneuver without hurting himself.
“He swims three or four times a week and he goes to the symphony and the ballet. I hear he performed his maneuver with great agility. I have always been very proud of my dad and I believe he is the person who has saved more lives than anyone living,” his son said.
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After the experience, Patty Ris wrote Dr. Heimlich a note, saying: “God put me in this seat next to you."