94-year-old Heimlich maneuver namesake pens memoir

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94-year-old Heimlich maneuver namesake pens memoir
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 photo, Dr. Henry Heimlich holds his memoirs prior to being interviewed at his home in Cincinnati. Heimlich is known for developing the Heimlich maneuver that has been used to clear obstructions from the windpipes of choking victims around the world for four decades. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 photo, Dr. Henry Heimlich is interviewed in his home, in Cincinnati, in front of a silk robe that was given to him during his travels in China. Heimlich is known for developing the Heimlich maneuver that has been used to clear obstructions from the windpipes of choking victims around the world for four decades. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 photo, Dr. Henry Heimlich describes the maneuver he developed to help clear obstructions from the windpipes of choking victims, while being interviewed at his home in Cincinnati. Heimlich hopes his recently published memoir will preserve the technique that has made his name a household word. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 photo, Dr. Henry Heimlich describes the maneuver he developed to help clear obstructions from the windpipes of choking victims, while being interviewed at his home in Cincinnati. Heimlich hopes his recently published memoir will preserve the technique that has made his name a household word. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
** FILE ** Dr. Henry Heimlich speaks before presenting the "Save a Life Award" to Kevin Stephan at Buffalo General Hospital Wednesday June 21, 2006 in Buffalo, N.Y., for performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Penny Brown in a restaurant earlier this year. Coincidentally, Penny Brown saved Kevin Stephan's life 7-years ago by performing Cardio Pulmonary Resucitation at a baseball game . (AP Photo/John Hickey)
Dr. Henry Heimlich speaks with Penny Brown and Kevin Stephan, after Stephan received the "Save a Life" award at Buffalo General Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, June 21, 2006, for performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Brown in a restaurant earlier this year. In 1999, Brown, a nurse, performed CPR on Stephan after his heart stopped beating when he was struck in the chest by a baseball bat. (AP Photo/John Hickey)
Dr. Henry Heimlich goes to embrace Kevin Stephan as Penny Brown looks on, after Stephan received the "Save a Life" award from Heimlich at Buffalo General Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., Wednesday, June 21, 2006, for performing the Heimlich Maneuver on Brown in a restaurant earlier this year . In 1999, Brown, a nurse, performed CPR on Stephan after his heart stopped beating when he was struck in the chest by a baseball bat. (AP Photo/John Hickey)
Dr. Henry J. Heimlich poses in Lynn, Mass., August 11, 1986 with 5-years-old Brent Meldrum, left, who saved the life of his friend, Tanya Branden, 6, when he dislodged a piece of candy caught in her throat using the technique he had seen on a TV program. (AP Photo/Carol Francaville)
Dr. Henry Heimlich, right, developer of the Heimlich Maneuver applies a little too much pressure to Dorothy Allen of Halifax , Mass. during a demonstration December 5, 1985 in Boston. Heimlich was in Boston to honor 53 people who successfully performed the maneuver to save the lives of choking victims. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Dr. Henry J. Heimlich of Cincinnati, Ohio, creator of the Heimlich Maneuver used to save victims choking to death on food or other objects, poses with Melissa Wertheim, 10, of Bellingham, Mass., November 29, 1984, at an awards ceremony in Newton, Mass. held to honor those in Massachusetts who successfully used the maneuver to save a life. Melissa saved her mother, Joan Wertheim, who had started choking on a piece of meat at dinner. (AP Photo)
Dr. Henry Heimlich holds a photograph in his office April 12, 1984 in Cincinnati of the late Gen. Fu Tso Yi, with whom he was friend while in China during World War II. Dr. Heimlieh, developer of the Heimlieh Manuever and several surgical procedures, has been invited back to China for three weeks. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Dr. Henry Heimlich of Cinncinnati, Ohio, right, and Mayor Edward Koch demonstrate how a chocking victim should signal for help August 7, 1981 at New York's City Hall during Heimlich's discussion of his Heimlich Maneuver. Mayor Koch was aided by the maneuver last week during a meal. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)
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CINCINNATI (AP) - The Cincinnati surgeon who wrote the book on saving choking victims through his namesake Heimlich maneuver has now penned a new book: his memoir.

Dr. Henry Heimlich's views on how the maneuver should be used and on other innovations he has created or proposed have put him at odds with some in the health field. But he hopes his recently published memoir will preserve the technique that has cleared obstructions from windpipes of choking victims around the world for four decades and made his name a household word.

"I know the maneuver saves lives, and I want it to be used and remembered," the 94-year-old retired chest surgeon told The Associated Press this month. "I felt I had to have it down in print so the public will have the correct information."

Much of his autobiography - "Heimlich's Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation" - focuses on the maneuver, which involves thrusts to the abdomen that apply upward pressure on the diaphragm to create an air flow forcing food or other objects out of the windpipe.

Heimlich says thousands of deaths reported annually from choking prompted him in 1972 to seek a solution. Over the next two years, leading a team of researchers at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, he successfully tested the technique by putting a tube with a balloon at one end down an anesthetized dog's airway until it choked. He then used the maneuver to force the dog to expel the obstruction.

"By 1974, I knew I needed to get the maneuver to the public as soon as possible to save lives," he said.

He appeared on radio and television shows including "Good Morning America" and "Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and started hearing from people who had used the maneuver or been saved by it.

The maneuver made headlines again this month. Clint Eastwood was attending a golf event in Monterey, Calif., when the 83-year-old actor saw the tournament director choking on a piece of cheese and successfully performed the technique.

"The best thing about it is that it allows anyone to save a life," Heimlich said.

Anne Jutt of Mason, a Cincinnati suburb, said Heimlich will always be a hero to her family. She used the maneuver last spring when her 6-year-old son was choking on a cherry tomato.

"I was scared of hurting him, but he was starting to get limp," she said. "I put everything I had into it, and the tomato flew out like a bullet."

Heimlich says the maneuver is very effective when used correctly, but he does not approve of American Red Cross guidelines calling for back blows followed by abdominal thrusts in choking cases that don't involve infants or unconscious victims. Red Cross officials say evidence shows using multiple methods can be more effective, but Heimlich says blows can drive obstructions deeper into a windpipe. The American Heart Association backs abdominal thrusts.

Neither organization supports Heimlich's view that using the maneuver to remove water from the lungs could save drowning victims. They recommend CPR.

"There is no evidence that abdominal thrusts are effective for drowning victims," said Dr. Robert Neumar, chairman of the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee of the American Heart Association.

Heimlich points with pride to some of his other innovations, such as a chest drain valve credited by some with saving soldiers and civilians during the Vietnam War. But he has drawn sharp criticism for his theory that injecting patients with a curable form of malaria could trigger immunity in patients with the HIV virus that causes AIDS. Medical experts have said injecting patients with malaria would be dangerous and have criticized Heimlich for conducting studies involving malariotherapy on HIV patients in China.

Heimlich mostly brushes off criticism about his work.

"I'll be the first to admit that a number of my ideas are controversial and in some ways unorthodox," Heimlich said. "But I have enough guts to know that when I am right, it will come about as the thing to do, even if others do the wrong thing for a time."

Heimlich now lives in an assisted-living facility but responds to emails and letters about his work and makes guest appearances with the Heimlich Heroes program. The program designed to teach young people how to use the Heimlich maneuver allows him to still pursue his passion for saving lives.

"And I'm not done yet," he said with a grin.
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