happy news

96-Year-Old Dr. Heimlich Put His Maneuver to Use on a Fellow Resident at His Retirement Home

Dr. Henry Heimlich
Dr. Heimlich. Photo: Al Behrman/AP

Patty Ris, 87, was eating dinner in her retirement home when she started choking on a piece of hamburger. It just so happens her table mate was Dr. Henry Heimlich, the man whose name you know from the posters in your school cafeteria and who invented the life-saving technique in the 1970s. The staff rushed in to help Patty, but Heimlich, who’s 96 but “swims and exercises regularly,” was basically like, “Guys, c’mon, I got this.”

He had a point. “It is Dr. Heimlich,” staff told the Cincinnati Enquirer. 

Dr. Heimlich has demonstrated his method — basically, abdominal thrusts — many times, but he doesn’t often use the maneuver on an actual choking person.*

Well, he, Patty, and everyone in the world can let out a big sigh of relief because, hey, guess what? It works! Heimlich gave her about three abdominal thrusts, out came the hamburger, Patty was fine, and everyone at the facility went back to eating their dinner. (Technically, you’re supposed to hit a choking person on the back first to try to dislodge any object, then resort to abdominal thrusts; it’s unclear if Heimlich followed this protocol.)

I sort of felt wonderful about it,” the Dr. Heimlich said in an interview. “I knew it was working all over the world. I just felt some satisfaction.” You and us both, doc. The name can stay.

*This post originally stated that Dr. Heimlich used his technique on a choking person for the first time. It has been updated to reflect reports that the doctor may have used it on others in the past.

At 96, Heimlich Uses His Method to Save Woman