(Reuters) - Dr. Henry Heimlich, the 96-year-old Cincinnati surgeon credited with inventing the lifesaving technique named for him, used it this week to save a fellow senior center resident who was choking on a hamburger, a center spokesman said on Friday.
In multiple national television appearances over the years Heimlich had demonstrated the technique commonly known as the “Heimlich Maneuver” to dislodge food from an airway.
But on Monday, Heimlich was sitting at a communal dining table at Cincinnati’s Deupree House, an upscale senior living center where he lives, and noticed fellow resident Patty Ris, 87, in distress while eating an open-faced hamburger, according to his spokesman, Ken Paley.
Heimlich dashed out of his seat, put his arms around her and pressed on her abdomen below the rib cage, following his own instructions, which are displayed on posters required to be displayed in most restaurants in the United States, although some laws have been discontinued.
“After three compressions, this piece of meat came out, and she just started breathing, her whole face changed,” Heimlich said in a video interview shared by Paley, vice president of marketing for Episcopal Retirement Services, which operates Deupree House.
“I sort of felt wonderful about it, just having saved that girl,” Heimlich said.
“I knew it was working all over the world. I just felt a satisfaction,” said Heimlich, who has lived in the 120-apartment complex for six years and swims regularly for exercise.
Ris said she randomly selected the seat in the dining room on Monday because she is a new resident at Deupree.
“When I wrote my ‘thank you’ note to him for saving my life, I said, ‘God put me in that seat next to you, Dr. Heimlich, because I was gone, I couldn’t breathe at all,’” Ris said in another video interview shared by Paley.
(This version of the story was corrected to delete “for the first time” from first and second sentences after spokesman says Heimlich may have performed the maneuver in the past.)
Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler