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Dr. Henry J. Heimlich, the thoracic surgeon who developed the widely used anti-choking maneuver that bore his name, passed away over the weekend after having suffered a heart attack last Monday. He was 96.

The New York Times writes in its obituary that "more than four decades after inventing his maneuver, Dr. Heimlich used it himself on May 23 to save the life of an 87-year-old woman choking on a morsel of meat at Deupree House, their senior residence in Cincinnati. He said it was the first time he had ever used the maneuver in an emergency, although he had made a similar claim in 2003."
KC's View:
When I heard about Heimlich's passing, it occurred to me that there probably are not many doctors who can justifiably claim to having saved as many lives as he did since he created the Heimlich Maneuver back in 1974. I don't know anyone who doesn't know what it is ... nor anyone who wouldn't know basically how to attempt it in circumstances that call for its use.

The thing is, I can also vividly remember when it was done to me ... and essentially saved my life. It was just before Christmas probably 20 years ago, and my friend Tony Kiser and his then-girlfriend took me out to dinner at a restaurant in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City after a long day of working on a new business project. It was cold and snowing, and when I bit down on a breadstick it got caught in my throat. I couldn't breathe. And for some reason I still cannot explain, I dashed out of the restaurant to try and dislodge it myself. Tony Kiser instantly knew what was happening, followed me out, and did the Heimlich maneuver on me ... instantly dislodging the breadstick.

I can vividly remember the panic ... and the relief. And I know I'm just one of millions who have been saved by the Heimlich Maneuver (and a good friend with better instincts than I had).