Dr. Henry Heimlich: Letter accuses famed doctor of being 'dishonest' in his new memoir

'Heimlich's Maneuvers' now available nationwide

CINCINNATI – The same day Dr. Henry Heimlich’s new memoir was released nationwide, an ex-wife of an old colleague has accused the famous doctor of being “dishonest and unjust” in the book.

Joy Patrick, whose ex-husband was the late Dr. Edward Patrick, wrote in a letter to Heimlich that she was “livid” when she found out Heimlich’s book “includes no mention of Edward.”

“I can only assume that you have no idea of the pain this causes me and my children, especially … the beautiful son and daughter I had with Edward,” she wrote.

For years before his death in 2009, Patrick said he was the co-developer of the Heimlich Maneuver and hadn’t received credit publicly.

The Heimlich Maneuver is an emergency medical procedure designed to help someone who is choking. It made Dr. Henry Heimlich a household name after its introduction in 1974.

Heimlich has denied Patrick’s claim repeatedly and told WCPO that Patrick wasn’t working in Cincinnati until after the maneuver was developed and publicized. The issue was discussed in a profile of Heimlich that published on WCPO.com days before the Feb. 11 release of “Heimlich’s Maneuvers: My Seventy Years of Lifesaving Innovation.”

A public relations representative for Heimlich emailed WCPO the doctor's written response to Joy Patrick's letter:

“Edward Patrick first contacted me after he read about the Heimlich Maneuver in the newspaper. He was supportive of my work and yes, we co-authored papers.


“'Heimlich's Maneuvers' is my memoir, not a medical paper, and not an academic treatise. I wrote this book over a long period of time, adding and deleting stories in order to create a finished product that shares my life, from childhood to present day, and creates a legacy for my family.

“Because my memoir’s core focus is on my efforts to come up with medical solutions over a seventy-year career, it was not possible to mention all the many medical professionals who worked with me over the years. There was never any intention to cause pain to Mrs. Patrick or her family in writing this book.”

In her letter, Joy Patrick notes that her late ex-husband and Heimlich worked together over several decades on various projects and co-authored articles in medical journals.

She also wrote that when Heimlich was Director of Surgery at The Jewish Hospital, he wrote a letter of recommendation for Patrick. In the letter, dated April 1, 1977, Heimlich wrote, “Dr. Patrick has been associated with me for more than three years.”

Joy Patrick said that proves Heimlich knew her ex-husband before the maneuver was introduced in June 1974.

“I don’t understand why you’ve always been unwilling to give Edward the credit he deserved,” she wrote.

“I also don’t expect you to care that my children get laughed at when they tell other kids that their father was responsible for the so-called ‘Heimlich maneuver.’”

She ended the letter with this:

“For you to render Edward invisible in your autobiography is dishonest and unjust. Please know that I intend to do everything I can to bring out the truth.”

Download the letter to link to other documents that it refers to.



For more stories by Lucy May, go to www.wcpo.com/may . Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

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