The Eternal Lights of Dr. Henry Heimlich

Dr. Heimlich, who passed away on December 18, 2016 at the age of 96 stoked many lights in this world. He is best known for his Heimlich Maneuver, however it was his other inventions that saved the most lives.

A Humble Beginning

Dr. Heimlich was born in Delaware and grew up during the depression in a working-class Jewish family in the Bronx. His father’s family immigrated from Hungary and his mother’s from Russia. At the age of 20, when working as a summer camp counselor, Dr. Heimlich had his first opportunity to begin what would become a lifetime of saving lives. A train derailment caused a fireman to become trapped under the wheel of one of the train cars, which was standing in a swamp. He kept the man’s head out of water for an hour until medics arrived to pull the man out.

In medical school, Dr. Heimlich signed up for Navy ROTC and in 1944 found himself in the Gobi Desert where he was tasked with setting up a medical camp. Rumors had it that the Japanese were going to attack. When not busy with his camp duties, Dr. Heimlich starting treating the local Chinese farmers who at first did not trust him very much, but after a successful save, hundreds of Chinese peasants would line up every day seeking medical treatment. (more…)