cover image Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation

Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation

Henry J. Heimlich, M.D. Prometheus Books, $19.95 trade paper (230p) ISBN 978-1-61614-849-2

Heimlich’s memoir looks beyond the invention of the author’s eponymous technique, which has saved countless choking victims since 1974. The book begins with Heimlich’s comfortable childhood in New Rochelle, N.Y.—filled with daydreams of “medical discovery”—and follows him through his training at Cornell Medical College, his service in the Navy during WWII at a Gobi Desert hospital, his marriage, and his establishment of a remarkable surgical practice. He proudly shares his astounding list of medical inventions, including a “reversed gastric tube operation” that allowed patients with damaged esophagi (and credits Romanian doctor Dan Gavriliu, who independently developed a similar procedure four years prior, but was behind the Iron Curtain) to eat again; exercises that taught people to swallow who’d lost the physical ability to do so; a chest drain valve that advanced the care of patients with life-threatening chest wounds; and a “microtrach” for patients with chronic breathing problems. Heimlich acknowledges that his most famous creation is the antichoking technique that bears his name, which “allows anyone... to save a life.” The book also covers his fascinating but less-well-known legal battle with the Red Cross over its teaching of the Heimlich maneuver. This is a lively read for those beginning medical careers and for anyone interested in the life of a storied man of medicine. (Feb.)