Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Heimlich Manoeuvre

This may be a stretch to offer for Weekend Cooking
but I couldn't resist sharing a fantastic bit of news.

Dr Henry Heimlich uses Heimlich manoeuvre for first time at 96
Surgeon employs anti-choking technique that bears his name to dislodge hamburger from woman’s airway in retirement home

The surgeon who gave his name to the simple but dramatic procedure used to rescue people from choking saved someone’s life with the Heimlich Manoeuvre for the first time this week aged 96.
Dr Henry Heimlich’s technique for dislodging food or objects caught in people’s throats has been credited with saving untold thousands of lives around the world since he invented it in 1974 – but he had never once had cause to use it in an emergency situation himself.
Last Monday, however, the retired chest surgeon encountered a female resident at his retirement home in Cincinnati who was choking at the dinner table.
Without hesitation, Heimlich spun her around in her chair so he could get behind her and administered several upward thrusts with a fist below the chest until the piece of meat she was choking on popped out of her throat and she could breathe again.
“It was very gratifying,” Heimlich told the Guardian on Friday by telephone from Cincinnati.
“That moment was very important to me. I knew about all the lives my manoeuvre 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.”
After initial reports emerged of Heimlich and his son Philip declaring this was the first time the retired surgeon had used his technique to treat someone who was choking, an account emerged of an earlier incident.
A 2003 BBC Online report quoted Heimlich talking about using the manoeuvre on a choking diner in a restaurant in 2000. Interviewed again on Friday afternoon by the Guardian, the 96-year-old Heimlich said he did not recall such an incident. His son Philip also stated that he had no knowledge of his father using the technique in any prior emergency.
Heimlich lives in Deupree House, a senior assisted living centre in the city, where he and other residents have their own apartments but get together for meals in a communal dining room.
Fellow resident 87-year-old Patty Ris, who was quite new to the facility, sat down near Heimlich for dinner when she suddenly began choking on a piece of hamburger meat. A member of staff was heading over to attend to the emergency, when Heimlich calmly stepped in.
“I did the Heimlich Manoeuvre – 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.”

Heimlich demonstrates the manoeuvre on Johnny Carson in 1979. Photograph: NBC/NBC via Getty Images
Heimlich said that the woman never lost consciousness, but after being able to breathe again she was so startled she was unable to talk at first.
“I, however, just sat there absolutely smiling as big as I could,” Heimlich said.
The two had dinner together the following night in celebration.
“She told me how wonderful and fortunate she felt,” he said.
Standard practice for dealing with choking prior to 1974 was to thump the afflicted person on the back. But Heimlich argued then, and still does, that that can force the obstruction further into the gullet, not dislodge it.
He worked on various theories until he finally came up with the procedure in 1974, designed for use by the general public, not just medical personnel, of putting one’s arms around the casualty and exerting upward abdominal thrusts, just above the navel and below the ribs, with the linked hands in a fist, until the obstruction is dislodged.
In June 1974 Heimlich published preliminary findings from his experiments with anti-choking techniques in a US medical journal. Newspapers around the US quickly began picking up on examples where readers, including restaurant owners, had caught word of Heimlich’s article and had tried the maneouvre on choking casualties, with successful results.
Word spread, and that summer the Journal of the American Medical Association published an editorial in which, with the surgeon’s permission, the technique was officially referred to for the first time as the “Heimlich Manoeuvre”. A year later, Heimlich wrote a peer-reviewed paper for the JAMA on his life-saving discovery. The technique became widely adopted nationally and internationally and is today explained via diagrams on posters in most US restaurants and is also taught in many schools, according to his son, Philip Heimlich.
The surgeon, who studied at Cornell University in upstate New York, is also well known in the medical community for pioneering various surgical techniques and a device called the Heimlich valve that can be used for administering triage on chest wounds in the field, including in battle.
Heimlich’s son Philip, who lives near his father in Cincinnati, said the elder Heimlich was widowed three years ago, but although he lives in assisted accommodation for the elderly he is very fit for his age.
“He swims three or four times a week and he goes to the symphony and the ballet. I hear he performed his manoeuvre 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,” he said.
In the US just over 4,800 people die annually from choking through various causes, with around 3,000 of those believed to be from choking on food, according to the US National Safety Council. Between 175 and 200 people die a year in the UK from choking on food, according to the Office for National Statistics.

After her brush with death, Patty Ris wrote Dr Heimlich a note, saying: “God put me in this seat next to you,” she told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

32 comments:

  1. I've seen a little bit about this but this is the most detailed account I've come across. It's such a fascinating story. I don't think I really knew how recent the Heimlich maneuver is.

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    1. I love the Guardian, both the UK and the US versions. Great reporting, beautiful website, no junky ads. I was also surprised at how recent it was.

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  2. First aid is something we should all know. Especially this maneuver.

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    1. You are right, and I know nothing.

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  3. I saw this on the news. How fantastic! Have a great week. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

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    1. It really is a wonderful story that at 96 he gets to use his own method!

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  4. I saw this on the news. Amazing the old fellow could still do it. A reminder to us all.

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    1. It just made me so happy that he had a chance to use it, AND to save someone's life. I saved my late goat's life once, but that's it. :<)

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  5. Yes, I'd heard this story. Pretty amazing! Interesting about the other incident where he supposedly used the HM back in 2000.

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    1. Odd, isn't it that the father and son don't remember?

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  6. I sa this on the news but I like your complete version better.

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    1. As I wrote to someone above, I really like The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news

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  7. So cool! Love that you shared this on Weekend Cooking. Makes me smile to know he got to save someone's life!

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  8. What a great story! I hadn't heard about this.

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  9. Isn't that a great story!? I've had to learn it for several jobs I've had over the years, but thank goodness have never had to implement it. Thank goodness he was there when he was needed and what a special moment for him.

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    1. It really is such a joyful story. I've never learned it, but a long time ago a nurse told me to put up your arms if you are choking (not a bad choke). It must do the same sort of thing on a less serious level.

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  10. I heard this on the news and I was hoping someone would have a post on it! I love this story!
    Also, just to say if someone can speak, then that person is not choking. I have asthma and it often sounds like I am choking...I am trying to get my breath and someone will pound me on the back! Honestly, I am like a walking comedy show.

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    1. I love 'walking comedy show.' You have the.best sense of humor. I'm so pleased you were hoping someone would do a post on the story. I couldn't resist.

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  11. I knew the name "Heimlich" and knew what the maneuvre was, but I somehow had it down in my mind as something at least 100 years old, with the man who gave it its name long gone. How nice to find out that Dr. Heimlich is still around, and now finally got to use his invention on someone to save their lives!
    When I was about 2 years old, during a family picnic I was choking on a bit of chicken bone. My Mum says I was already blue in the face. She grabbed me by my feet, hung me upside down and slapped me on the bottom until the bit of bone came free and I started breathing again. I have no recollection of the event.
    Of course you can't do this with adults - but it worked perfectly well for me as a toddler!

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    1. Your mum could be rich and famous now!! What quick and good thinking on her part. I also thought the Heimlich was a lot older.

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  12. Nan, this is a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. To save a life is such a noble deed. It's important that non-medical personnel should be able to do the Heimlich manoeuvre correctly.

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    1. It sure is a great story! And you're right - we all should be taught the right way to do it, just in case.

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  13. I missed this story so thanks for sharing. How terrific he got to use his technique and save someone! ;-)

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  14. What an interesting story, thanks for sharing.

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  15. Great story! I hadn't heard about it in the news. Interesting that essentially the same news story was reported years earlier, but apparently mistakenly!

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    1. It makes you wonder, doesn't it? This time we've got the man himself on video telling us so we know it's true!

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  16. I saw a little article about this (maybe on Facebook ;>)))>.. but it wasn't very detailed and I meant to look up more ... thank you for doing it for me! The blurb I read before simply highlighted that it was the first time "in real life" that Dr H had used the maneuver. What I wanted to know -- and what this post explains so well -- is how he learned it .... I also found it immensely interesting to read about where he lives and how active he is able to be in that kind of living situation. Much to think about.

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    1. As I wrote to a couple people above, I am a big fan of the Guardian. I like the in-depth coverage they offer. And I think that's one of the things that bugged me about Fb - it was easy to get the headlines, but I often felt when I 'shared' a story on my page that rarely did anyone click and read more. There is indeed much to think about in the article.

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