Henry Heimlich

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Henry Jay Heimlich (according to other sources also Henry Judah Heimlich or Henry J. Heimlich ; born February 3, 1920 in Wilmington , Delaware ; † December 17, 2016 in Cincinnati ) was an American doctor who was primarily influenced by the invention of the Heimlich named after him -Hand grip became known.


Heimlich was born in Wilmington, Delaware, to Philip Heimlich and Mary Epstein. In 1937 he graduated from New Rochelle High School (NRHS) in New York. 1941 received a BA degree at Cornell University and in 1943 the doctoral degree (MD) at Weill Cornell Medical College . During the Second World War he worked as a doctor in the US Marines . He then completed specialist training in general and thoracic surgery and worked for many years in New York City . He moved to the Xavier University of Cincinnati as a professor in 1977 . Until his death he was president of the Heimlich Institute in Cincinnati.

Heimlich was married to Jane Murray since 1951. The marriage had four children: Phil, Peter, Janet and Elisabeth.

On December 12, 2016, he suffered a heart attack, which resulted in his death on December 17.

Heimlich's surgical work

In 1957, Heimlich carried out an operative reconstruction of the esophagus in humans for the first time, which was also initially known by his name. However, Dan Gavriliu had already successfully carried out this operation on April 20, 1951 in Romania. Secretly acknowledged that too, so this operation was named after Gavriliu. The Heimlich valve for the treatment of pneumothorax is also named after Heimlich.

The Heimlich handle

Heimlich maneuver

In 1974 Heimlich first described his handle with which a foreign body obstruction of the airways could be removed. Shortly afterwards, a newspaper reported that it saved a suffocating person. In 2003, Edward A. Patrick , an alleged long-time colleague of Heimlich, claimed to have been the actual inventor of the maneuver. Patrick's claims that he himself had used the Heimlich maneuver to rescue a drowned toddler and a stroke patient threatened with suffocation were disrupted by allegations of fraud brought against Patrick by Heimlich's son Peter M. Heimlich based on his own research.

Although named after him, Henry Heimlich never used the maneuver in an emergency during his work as a medic. It was not until 2000 that he used the maneuver when restaurant guests called the then 80-year-old for help instead of using his handle himself. As a 96-year-old, Henry Heimlich came into the situation again in May 2016 in a retirement home to help an 87-year-old co-resident who had choked on a hamburger and was threatened with suffocation with the Heimlich maneuver.

Heimlich's work on malaria therapy

His later work damaged Heimlich's reputation and brought him into disrepute, especially because of his claim that AIDS , cancer and Lyme disease can be cured if patients become infected with malaria . This theory originally comes from research carried out by the Nobel Prize winner for medicine, Julius Wagner-Jauregg : He found out that malaria therapy can cure neurolues . Since the beginning of the 1990s Heimlich organized human experiments in Mexico , China and various African countries, where patients suffering from the diseases mentioned above were given injections with malaria-infected blood. These human experiments were rejected by government agencies (including the FDA and CDC ) and denounced as "medical atrocities" by bioethicists .


  • Postoperative care in thoracic surgery: a manual of practical information for internes, residents and nurses (1962)
  • Surgery of the stomach, duodenum, and diaphragm (1967, with Meyer O. Cantor and Charles Hamilton Lupton)
  • Dr. Heimlich's Home guide to emergency medical situations (1984, with Lawrence Galton)
  • Heimlich's maneuvers: my seventy years of lifesaving innovation (2014)


  1. Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of famed anti-choking Heimlich maneuver, this. Accessed December 17, 2016 .
  2. ↑ The inventor of the Heimlich grip, which saves lives, has died. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung of December 17, 2016
  3. ^ HJ Heimlich, Edward A. Patrick: Using the Heimlich Maneuver to save near-drowning victims. In: Postgraduate Medicine, Minneapolis. 88, 1988, pp. 62-73.
  4. ^ HJ Heimlich, JM Winfield: The use of a gastric tube to replace or by-pass the esophagus. In: Surgery. 37 (4), Apr 1955, pp. 549-559. PMID 14373267
  5. ^ Dan Gavriliu, Leonida Georgescu: Esofagoplastie directã cu material gastric (anastomozã eso.gastricã). In: Rivista Stiintelor Medicale. 3, June 1951, pp. 33-36.
  6. Henry J. Heimlich: The use of a gastric tube to replace the esophagus as performed by Dr. Dan Gavriliu of Bucharest, Romania. A preliminary report following a visit to Bucharest, Rumania. In: Surgery. 42 (4), October 1957, pp. 693-695.
  7. ^ HJ Heimlich, KA Hoffmann, FR Canestri: Food-choking and drowning deaths prevented by external subdiaphragmatic compression. Physiological basis. In: Ann Thorac Surg . 20 (2), Aug 1975, pp. 188-195. PMID 1164065
  8. clevescene.com
  9. clevescene.com
  10. Peter M. Heimlich, Karin M. Shulman: Drowning in lies: Henry J. Heimlich, Edward A. Patrick and the Heimlich Maneuver Case Frauds. on: medfraud.info/
  11. Heimlich: Still saving lives at 83 . In: BBC . March 9, 2003 ( bbc.co.uk [accessed January 1, 2017]).
  12. air! A 96-year-old saves a life - with a world-famous handle that he invented himself. In: Der Spiegel. 25/2016, p. 61.
  13. J. Wagner-Jauregg: Prevention and treatment of progressive paralysis by vaccine malaria. In: Handbook of experimental therapy. 1931.
  14. X. Chen, HJ Heimlich, B. Xiao, S. Liu, Y. Lu, J. Rao, EG Spletzer: Phase-1 studies of malariotherapy for HIV infection. In: Chin Med Sci J. 14 (4), Dec 1999, pp. 224-228. PMID 12894896

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