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96-Year-Old Dr. Heimlich Saves Woman’s Life Using His Famous Maneuver

Talk about being in the right place at the right time

There’s something to be said about being in the right place at the right time with the right person sitting next to you. If you needed a rhyme and just happened to be sitting next to Jay Z, you’d be pretty lucky. If you needed help telling at joke at a banquet and were seated next to Louis C.K. it’d be kismet, right? Patty Ris must be counting her blessings because, recently, she was choking during dinner and just happened to be at the same table as the inventor of the Heimlich maneuver, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich.


I just sat down at a table,” Ris said in a video recorded for the parent company of her senior residence. “I ordered a hamburger, and the next thing I know, I could not breathe I was choking so hard.” Dr. Heimlich, a fellow resident who was seated next to her, turned to say something and realized she looked distressed. “I saw her face was all stiffened up and her skin was turning dark and she could not speak,” he said. “Of all things, I knew she was choking.”

So Dr. Heimlich sprang into action, implementing the maneuver he had demonstrated for thousands of people since the ‘70s. “I made a fist of my right hand — you can do it with either hand, by the way — and put my arms around her,” he said. All it took was three quick thrusts and a chunk of meat flew out of Mrs. Ris’s mouth and she gasped for air. “I felt it was just confirmation of what I had been doing throughout my life,” the retired 96-year-old thoracic surgeon said.

Although Dr. Heimlich claims this was the first time he ever attempted his famous maneuver during a real-life emergency, A New Yorker article article from 2006 proves otherwise. But we’ll let him enjoy the moment, after all his technique has saved the lives of tens of thousands of people. The Heimlich maneuver was developed by the doctor in 1974 after he learned that 4,000 Americans died every year from choking on food and small objects.

How to perform the Heimlich maneuver


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