Folks, Dr. Henry Judah Heimlich was born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1920. He was the famous physician who invented the Heimlich maneuver that has reportedly saved 50,000 lives. I do acknowledge that there is some controversy swirling around Heimlich’s works.
Furthermore, prior to the Heimlich maneuver it was thought that a good slap on the back would render relief to a choking person. Dr. Heimlich advised against this action. He opined that the slapping on the back only caused the blockage to drop down deeper into the throat, whereas applying an upward pressure to the diaphragm under the choke point might force the blockage to pop out.
As a U.S. Navy surgeon in WW II, he witnessed the deaths of numerous wounded sailors on the operating table after being wounded in the chest, when blood and air filled their chest cavities. . In 1960 he devised a simple and inexpensive valve that could be quickly inserted through an injured patient’s skin, to let the leakage escape.
It should be noted that for whatever reason Dr. Heimlich has his share of critics, including his son, Peter. All this notwithstanding a full array of celebrities have been saved with the Heimlich maneuver. Here is a partial list; Elizabeth Taylor, Ed Koch, Jack Lemon, Walter Matthau, John Chancellor and last but not least, Ronald Reagan. Reagan was choking on a peanut lodged in his throat in 1976 when Michael Deaver applied the Heimlich maneuver and reportedly saved his life.
For what its worth, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Everett Koop has endorsed the Heimlich maneuver as the only safe method for saving a choking person.
Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.