The life of Dr. Henry J. Heimlich

Dr. Henry Heimlich was a thoracic surgeon, medical innovator, and humanitarian who dedicated his life to finding simple, creative ways to save lives and improve the health of people throughout the world. He passed away on December 17th at the age of 96.

He was best known for having invented the Heimlich Maneuver which has been used by people of all ages to save choking victims around the globe. Dr. Heimlich also devised many other lifesaving innovations. In 1957, he was the first American surgeon to perform the reversed gastric tube operation, which allowed people who had lost their ability to swallow to again eat normally. A decade later, he invented the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve which saved the lives of thousands of soldiers in the Vietnam War and is commonly used today for patients undergoing chest surgery.

Dr. Heimlich received the Albert Lasker Award in 1984 and the American Academy of Achievement Award the following year. In 1992, he was the guest of honor at the National Awards Dinner of the Maimonides Research Institute in Haifa, Israel. He was inducted into the Engineering and Science Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Safety and Health Hall of Fame International in 1993.

Dr. Heimlich’s autobiography, Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation, was published by Prometheus Books in 2014.