Dr Henry Heimlich, the 96-year-old retired US surgeon credited with developing his namesake Heimlich manoeuvre, recently used the emergency technique for the first time himself to save a woman choking on food at his senior living centre.

Heimlich told a newspaper in the US state of Ohio on Thursday that he has demonstrated the well-known manoeuvre many times through the years, but had never before used it on a person who was choking.

An employee at the Deupree House in Cincinnati, where Heimlich lives told the AP news agency that the retired chest surgeon was in the room when an 87-year-old woman began choking.

The employee said Heimlich dislodged a piece of hamburger from the woman's airway and she quickly recovered.

Heimlich said it made him appreciate how wonderful it has been "to be able to save all those lives".

In an interview with a Cincinnati publication, Patty Ris, the woman Heimlich saved, said "God put me in the seat" next to the doctor, so he could "save" her.

"I couldn't breathe at all for a long time," Ris said.  

The manoeuvre is a technique of abdominal thrust to dislodge an object stuck inside a person's throat.

Dr Heimlich has also been credited for other medical inventions including a portable oxygen system for patients who can walk, and the so-called "flutter valve" used to drain air from the lungs.

A 1985 photo of Dr Henry Heimlich demonstrating how the Heimlich Manoeuvre is used on a patient [AP]

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies