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An Illustrated History of Heimlich

Tuesday, March 05, 2013 - 05:23 PM

Inspired by our short The Man Behind the Maneuver, an infographic to map some key moments in the history of the Heimlich maneuver. Plus a bunch of Heimliched celebrities.

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Larry Buchanan, Brenna Farrell and Pat Walters


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Comments [25]

Jam Ludhjam from Bangkok

Glad to read from Reuters, on Friday 27 May 2016...:"Dr. Henry Heimlich, the 96-year-old Cincinnati surgeon credited with inventing the lifesaving technique named for him, used it for the first time this week to save a fellow senior center resident who was choking on a hamburger, a center spokesman said on Friday......"
Quite inspired!

May. 31 2016 04:48 PM

How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure" by Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, August 14, 2014:

When 'Chicago Hope' Dealt in Heimlich, Malariotherapy and AIDS by Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, August 14, 2014:

Aug. 19 2014 09:36 PM

I was talking to my eldest son( age 31) last week and he told me how he was eating and began to choke.It was 4am he had just got off from work and everyone was in bed.He tried the maneuver on himself but it didnt work.He then fell on the arm of his couch three times until he hit the right spot.It worked.By that time he had blood comming from his ears and nose.
He told me he thought he was going to die.
Thank you Dr Heimlick for saving my son's life.

Apr. 07 2013 07:52 AM
Julie from Baltimore, Maryland

Would be good to include how to do it on yourself if you are alone:

Apr. 05 2013 11:39 AM
Matt from San Francisco

Thanks, RadioLab, for another thought-provoking story. However, I'm dying to know what the music was at the end of the show. It was so good that I apparently overlooked the "harshness" of the author's radical conclusion that caused such a hubbub and led to so many outraged listeners posting comments. What is that atmospheric piano piece? (By the way, you guys do an excellent job manipulating your audience with music... But usually I love your tune selection anyway so it's gladly forgiven! Keep up the great work RadioLab!)

Mar. 25 2013 03:10 AM

Why is everyone hung up on what they call it?

It's a medical procedure, it should be called the most obvious and self-revealing name possible. Certainly not a difficult-to-pronounce non-English word. Naming a medical procedure is no time for sentimentality. Even if it does have a history.

I wish the story would have given comment to the absurd denial by Heimlich of the effective treatment of choking. The decision of the Red Cross, is as stated, based on a significant amount of research, studies and collaboration. You don't get to say, as Heimlich did, "nonsense" - You provide evidence that contradicts it and you prove it.

If you refuse to do that, you don't get to claim everyone else doesn't "like your ideas" because they're new and simple.
This is such a childish opinion Heimlich clings to. It has been true that good ideas have been rejected at first, in the past, but each case has to be taken on it's merits - it's your job to prove your case.
Otherwise everyone with a stupid idea can stand up and claim that "their just jealous, my idea is actually the truth, everyone just doesn't like it".

You settle scientific arguments with scientific evidence minus the whingeing and whining about being persecuted.

Mar. 19 2013 01:38 AM

This is my favorite Heimlich maneuver story ever:

Mar. 15 2013 06:07 PM
Aaron from Buffalo NY

The conclusion at the end of this piece was way over the top and flat out jerky. I always like this show, but this episode was like bad college radio. I was downright confused by the harshness of the report. It was weird.

Mar. 15 2013 01:25 AM
Jennifer R. Arnold from Austin, TX

Through the course of scientific history, names of theories and procedures have changed. One example, called the Lewis structure which diagrams valence electrons and their bonds around atoms, is also known as "electron dot structure" or "electron dot diagram." The name "Lewis structure" isn't totally out; it's still taught in Chem 101. But the name "electron dot structure" is more descriptive of the actual structure than the name given for its creator, Gilbert Lewis. There are more examples, and in my studies I have begun to using the modern, more descriptive terms.
However, while listening to this show, when the issue of changing the maneuver's name came up, I thought of myself in class choosing to use the modern terms, wondering if I am disrespecting the great scientists who came before me. Because the story really touched me, as many RadioLab stories do. I was taken inside the mind and life of this man, Heimlich, and though he did some things many people find questionable/abhorrent, I still think his contribution should be respected.
And so I ask you, Pat Walters, with all due respect (I admire your work) why? Why, why will you not tell your potential children about the origin of the “abdominal thrust” maneuver? Some people have speculated on your reasoning in this comment thread, but I want to hear from you. And I am surprised that neither Jad nor, especially, Mr. Krulwich asked you about that at the end of the show.

Mar. 12 2013 10:54 PM

Not included in the "Heimlich history timeline" graphic:

May 28, 2003 - Dr. Edward A. Patrick issues press release stating he is the uncredited co-developer of the Heimlich maneuver: (via The Wayback Machine)

Mar. 11 2013 10:30 AM
Chris from Redmond, WA

Couldn't help but remember this Eddie Izzard routine. For what it's worth!

Mar. 10 2013 07:49 PM
Gregg Tavares from San Francisco

Very good segment though I was sad with the author's conclusion. How many other things should be stripped of their commonly known name because the inventor did something you disagree with? If people have to be perfect to receive any recognition then no one will ever receive recognition. He's saved tens of thousands of lives. He should be remembered for that. If he did some other questionable stuff later that's a separate issue IMO.

Mar. 10 2013 04:23 PM

Via my blog, more details about my father's choking research:

'Widely-syndicated NPR program Radiolab reports that my father -- an animal rights icon -- "jammed pieces of meat down" the throats of dogs' by Peter M. Heimlich, The Sidebar, March 9, 2013:

Mar. 10 2013 09:12 AM
Peter M. Heimlich from suburban Atlanta

Via "Heimlich maneuver's creator fights Red Cross" by Cliff Radel, Cincinnati Enquirer (re-published in USA Today), January 21, 2013:

This waffling has vexed (Dr. Heimlich), prompting him to ask the Red Cross to remove his name from any of its literature and training procedures on choking.

"When they started calling for back slaps first and then the Heimlich maneuver," he recalled, "I wouldn't let them use the Heimlich name."

Mar. 08 2013 08:23 AM
Mr. Shitaki from NoShiz

So how many people did he cure? I'm a bit lost as to why anyone would be so upset about a Doctor trying to cure people. If I was dying of something, I might want to try a Nobel prize winning theory if I had a chance...I'd even try a idea from 200BC if everyone else was out of them. Ummm...the current drug industry probably isn't in the business of saving lives. Excuse me, while I go off to develop a conspiracy theory about the Red Cross.

Mar. 07 2013 11:09 PM
Kaitlin from New Jersey

Left this podcast feeling confused and bothered. Pat, why not tell your kids it's called the Heimlich? I wish you'd elaborate because for the most part I got the sense that you feel indebted to Heimlich for how you were rescued as a child, and when you abruptly said you were in agreement with changing the name you didn't explain this shift in your thinking. Is that the going punishment for someone who had well meaning radical theories? That we strip them of their merits? I'm not saying that I condone the work that Heimlich did with the malaria trials. I do think that taking his name out of this term is unproductive, though, and is one of our problems: we like to have a selective history that frames things in a way that makes us feel most comfortable. Also, I wish you'd get into the information about malaria treatments more so that your audience could decide for themselves. Still found this episode fascinating and enjoy your podcast. Seriously. Just looking for an explanation.

Mar. 07 2013 07:23 PM
Ian from Plymouth NH

The only question I had after hearing the story was... If back blows are so effective at saving a choking victim then why where there so many deaths prior to the Heimlich when back blows where the the recommended action?

Mar. 07 2013 11:59 AM
Judith from Menlo Park, CA

I shared the Radiolab piece on my Facebook timeline, commenting that my RedCross CPR training was that it was the Heimlich family who insisted that the Heimlich name not be used unless they were compensated. I apologized to friends who may have heard me pass on that story, which I now think was probably incorrect. Another friend said she got the same information from her CPR class. I have reason to believe that we did not have the same instructor.

Mar. 06 2013 07:51 PM
Carol Wright

Around the year 2000, I worked for Henry's wife Jane on revision of her What the Doctor Won't Tell You. She decided not to finish publishing it, as hubby really wanted to retire...both of them. We worked over the net and phone only. I never met them. She told me some backstory to the acceptance of his lifesaving technique.

It was not a easy sell at first, and as indicated there have been some challenges to its use as drowning protocol. Let's just say there is more to the story ...

Mar. 06 2013 07:43 PM

I will always remember the Heimlich scene towards the end of Mrs. Doubtfire. A life is saved, but an identity is revealed... Great part. Interesting to learn the history behind the maneuver- thanks Radiolab!

Mar. 06 2013 07:38 PM
Nancy Klimpel from Ronkonkoma, NY

I learned about the Heimlich maneuver in my first aid classes. While eating in various restaurants, my husband performed the procedure on several diners with excellent results. I was disappointed to hear that that the Red Cross decided to change the maneuver's name. Dr. Heimlich should be remembered for this livesaving procedure. Thanks for the bio on Dr. Heimlich!

Mar. 06 2013 03:17 PM
Shane Walsh from nebraska

Sarah it was the interviewer that said he wouldn't tell his children the name had been whitewashed. I think it's very dangerous to have a policy of removing people from history when you don't agree with them. Most of the great people in history have done things someone would object to.

Mar. 06 2013 10:02 AM

I can't help, while looking at this chart, thinking that Heimlich was born a fully grown adult man with graying hair.

Mar. 06 2013 09:03 AM
Sarah from Roswell GA

It's not Radiolab killing his name, it's everyone--even the Red Cross takes great care to not call it the Heimlich anymore.

Mar. 06 2013 07:55 AM
Kim Mathiasen from Denmark

I thought this was a great story - but I think the ending was a little harsh. You really want to kill off his name? Erase it from history? It was his invention...

Mar. 05 2013 07:04 PM

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