When Patty Ris began choking on a piece of hamburger meat at a senior living center in Cincinnati, Ohio Monday night, she was lucky one man was there to come to her rescue. Though it was one of the few times he ever had to use the method himself, Dr. Henry Heimlich, the 96-year-old developer of the famed Heimlich maneuver, was finally able to put his own procedure into practice and save Ris' life.
"I definitely would have died right then and there," Ris, 87, told the Associated Press. "There was no doubt about it."
During dinner on Monday, Heimlich was seated behind Ris and noticed she was showing signs of choking—her face had become unnaturally pink and she was having difficulty breathing. Despite his age, he rushed behind her and was able to dislodge the piece of food using his own technique.
"As soon as I did the Heimlich maneuver, a piece of meat with a bone in it immediately popped out," he explained.
According to the AP, Heimlich developed after reading about a number of choking deaths in the press. In 1972, the New York Times reported that roughly 3,000 Americans had choked death to that year. Two years later, Heimlich would publish his initial findings on the subject in an essay titled “Pop Goes the Café Coronary,” in the journal Emergency Medicine. Now, more than four decades since it's publication, Heimlich's work continues to save lives.
"God put me in this seat next to you," Ris told Heimlich on Monday.
[via Associated Press]