Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation

Dr. Heimlich was a thoracic surgeon best known for having developed the Heimlich Maneuver, the world’s easiest to learn and most universally known method to save people from choking to death on food or foreign objects. But many don’t know about his other lifesaving innovations. He was the inventor of the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve, which saved thousands of lives during the Vietnam War, and the Heimlich MicroTrach, which provides a remarkably efficient way for people to take oxygen.

Heilich Maneuver

Heimlich’s Maneuvers also discusses Dr. Heimlich’s most recent work where he had turned his attention to a devastating illness for which medicine has not yet found a cure—HIV/AIDS. In addition, he explained how the Heimlich Maneuver can have other uses, such as to help people with asthma. He described his research and its promise, as well as the controversy and resistance his new ideas generated.

Interweaving the author’s personal life with riveting stories of his numerous medical breakthroughs, this rich memoir provides insights into the workings of a creative mind and the machinations of the American medical system.

Reviews and quotes

This is a lively read for those beginning medical careers and for anyone interested in the life of a storied man of medicine.

Publisher’s Weekly

From northern China in World War II to the laboratory, to the operating room, and to medical conferences around the world, surgery has been the life of Dr. Henry J. Heimlich. In this memoir, he recounts the challenges, controversies, and successes of his more than half a century working at the edge of medical knowledge."

Neil Armstrong, astronaut

Dr. Heimlich has saved countless lives. And, as we learn in the pages of this remarkable book, no one has ever lived a life remotely like the inspiring journey that has been Dr. Heimlich’s. I recommend that every medical student, every doctor, and everyone who needs to see the potential of the human spirit read this wonderful book and take its lessons to heart.

Neal Barnard, MD, founder and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible MedicinePublisher’s Weekly

I’m thankful I learned the Heimlich Maneuver in high school; I remembered it when I needed it to save a man’s life. This is very meaningful for me. . . . To save a life . . . is so much more important than what I do on the field any day of the week.

Todd Frazier, baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds

Innovation in medicine is too often greeted with ridicule and suppression. Dr. Heimlich has overcome such resistance repeatedly to save many thousands of lives over the last seventy years. Thank you, Henry J. Heimlich, for giving us a brilliant, warm, and caring life story to appreciate over and over again.

L. Terry Chappell, MD, immediate past president of the International College of Integrative Medicine

Even though it had been over a decade since I learned the Heimlich Maneuver in medical school, the elegance and simplicity of the maneuver were intuitive, and, when the time came, I was able to apply it almost reflexively. I was very thankful that day for Dr. Heimlich’s legacy, which enabled me to rescue a United States congressman.

Nick Muzin, MD, JD, director of coalitions and strategy at House Republican Conference, 113th U.S Congress

Dr. Henry J. Heimlich has had an illustrious career and is probably responsible for saving more individual lives than anyone else on the planet. His innovative ideas and dedication to caring for patients have been acknowledged by his colleagues and have led to prestigious awards, including the preeminent Lasker Award, among others.

Ronald A. Sacher, MD, professor of internal medicine and pathology; director of the Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati Academic Health CenterPublisher’s Weekly

Thank you, Dr. Heimlich, for inventing this lifesaving method that has allowed me to save two lives. This memoir is a must-read for all who want to know about your amazing life and many contributions to medicine.

Connie Mariano, MD, former White House physician

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On page 133 of Heimlich’s Maneuvers, the quote from Reader’s Digest should read:

A small device barely five inches long is saving the lives of hundreds of Vietnam wounded—civilian as well as military. Called the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve, the new device, developed by Dr. Henry Heimlich, is used to drain fluids which accumulate in the chest cavity following heart and lung surgery, during certain illnesses, or as a result of a chest wound. Failure to drain can be fatal. The traditional method of draining the chest cavity requires elaborate tubing connected to drainage bottles half-filled with water. . . . Moving the patient with this apparatus, even from one area of a hospital to another, is complicated and often dangerous. Almost insurmountable difficulties arise in combat areas, where the patient must be moved quickly and often.

This text will be corrected in future editions of the book.