Jewish surgeon who invented Heimlich maneuver dies at age 96

Dr. Henry Heimlich dies at age 96 after suffering massive heart attack.

Chana Roberts ,

Doctors perform surgery
Doctors perform surgery
Nati Shohat/Flash 90

Dr. Henry Heimlich, the Jewish surgeon who invented the lifesaving Heimlich maneuver, died at age 96 on Friday night in Cincinnati after suffering a massive heart attack on Monday.

Dr. Heimlich was also president of the Heimlich Institute in Cincinnati, which celebrates creativity in medical innovation.

Despite his advanced age, Heimlich was still making guest appearances, as well as responding to letters and emails, during the last years of his life. Earlier in 2016, he noticed a woman choking and performed his maneuver on her, saving her life. The two had dinner together the next night to celebrate.

In 1974, as Director of Surgery at Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital, Dr. Heimlich invented his famous Heimlich maneuver in an attempt to save choking victims. That same year, he published preliminary findings on his new anti-choking maneuver in a US medical journal, and a year later, he wrote a peer-reviewed paper on it for the JAMA. Heimlich also wrote a book on saving choking victims through using the Heimlich maneuver.

In a statement on Saturday, Heimlich's family said, "We are saddened by the loss of our father, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, who passed away earlier today at the age of 96.

"Dad was a hero to many people around the world for a simple reason: He helped save untold numbers of lives through the innovation of common-sense procedures and devices. But he was not only a physician and medical inventor, he was also a humanitarian and a loving and devoted son, husband, father, and grandfather.

"As a young surgeon, Dad was the first American to devise and perform a total organ replacement. Later, he came up with a device that saved thousands of soldiers’ lives during the Vietnam War. The Heimlich Chest Drain Valve is still used worldwide for patients undergoing chest surgery.

"Dad was firm in his convictions and passionate for his causes. He didn’t play politics well. Instead, he was single-minded in his quest to find better ways to save lives. Dad dreamed that anything was possible in the field of medicine, even when critics said otherwise."