Henry Heimlich file photo [23020]

Henry Heimlich

Given NameHenry
Born3 Feb 1920
CountryUnited States


ww2dbaseHenry Judah Heimlich was born to Philip Heimlich and Mary Heimlich (née Epstein) in Wilmington, Delaware, United States in 1920. He graduated from New Rochelle High School in New Rochelle, New York, United States in 1937, and then from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1941. In 1943, he received his medical doctorate degree from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, New York. In Jan 1945, as a member of the US Navy Reserve, Lieutenant (junior grade) Heimlich was approached for a challenging mission at a remote secret location, which he accepted. As he would later find out, he was assigned to Camp Four of the Sino-American Special Technical Cooperative Organization (SACO) located at Xamba, Suiyuan Province in northern China, on the southern edge of the Gobe Desert. Officially he was the chief medical officer responsible for the well-being of American and Chinese military personnel at this camp, but in actuality he also took care of a wide array of medical issues for civilians in the small town. Camp Four received news of the war's end in late Aug 1945, and by Nov 1945 Heimlich had traveled to Shanghai for his next assignment. For the following six months, he was assigned to the hospital ship Repose. After returning to the United States, he married Jane Murray in 1951; they would later have four children together. In 1963, he introduced a chest drainage flutter valve; he noted that his determination to create such an invention was from his inability to save the life of a Chinese soldier with a bullet would to his chest, which caused a collapsed lung, during a unsuccessful surgery in 1945. In Jun 1974, he published a method to remove foreign body airway obstructions; named after him as the Heimlich Maneuver, it would remain American Red Cross' recommend method to remove such obstructions until 2006, and it would make his name well known. In the early 1980s, he advocated malariotherapy, which called for the deliberate infection of a person with benign malaria as a way to treat other more serious diseases; malariotherapy had not yet been proven effective, and it had garnered much criticism from official US bodies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention.

Linda Kush, The Rice Paddy Navy
University of Cincinnati

Last Major Revision: Feb 2015

Henry Heimlich Timeline

3 Feb 1920 Henry Heimlich was born in Wilmington, Delaware, United States.
9 Jan 1945 Henry Heimlich accepted a volunteer mission; he would not find out until later that he was destined for the interior of China.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
27 Feb 2015 05:42:39 AM

It should read "during an unsuccessful surgery." As unsuccessful starts with a vowel the rule requires "an" not "a".
2. Kristi E West says:
17 Mar 2020 10:11:58 PM

Who was Dr Henry Heimlichs commanding officer during WWII? Was it Dr George Leo Basham

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

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