Dr. Henry Heimlich, the man behind the Heimlich maneuver dies at age 96.

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What do you do if someone is choking? A large majority of the population only knows the answer to this question because of one man, Dr. Henry Heimlich. Dr. Heimlich was made famous by his anti-choking maneuver known as the Heimlich maneuver introduced in 1974. Born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1920 Dr. Heimlich received his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College in 1943.

The Heimlich maneuver is performed by wrapping ones arms around the victim’s waist, placing a fist thumb side just under the ribcage and between the lungs, and thrusting it upward to dislodge an airway obstruction with a burst of expelled air. The maneuver has been successfully performed on President Ronald Reagan, Cher, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman among hundreds of thousands of others around the world, launching Dr. Heimlich into rock star status.

Dr. Heimlich himself reportedly applied his technique only twice in his lifetime, the second time being just last May, when a women in his retirement village began choking. His first application of the maneuver was only in his early 80’s, he reportedly told the BBC, with thousands of people performing it before him.

The Heimlich maneuver however wasn’t his only success in life. He also created the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve, credited for saving thousands of lives of US soldiers shot in the chest. He also developed the Micro-Trach, surprisingly not named after him, a portable breathing tube which delivers oxygen directly into the lungs through a narrow tube inserted into the trachea.

It seems Hollywood has had a field day with Dr. Heimlich, having his Heimlich maneuver as well as his Micro-Trach being featured in hundreds of bestselling movies.

Another ‘innovation’ Dr. Heimlich became well known for, although controversially so, is his work with Malaria. He advocated injecting a curable form of malaria into patients with HIV, as well as other seemingly incurable diseases, to induce fevers and stimulate their immune system with the intention of fighting the HIV infection. He directed clinical trials, none of which were allowed to be conducted within the United States, with critics speaking poorly of the supposed ‘malariotherapy’, stating that no evidence existed to justify such a form of treatment.

Dr. Henry Heimlich died as a result of complications from a heart attack he suffered early in December. Despite the controversy late in his career, he clearly was an icon of his day, and will continue to be so for generations to come. You might never know when you’ll need to know his name at your own dinner table!