Dr Henry Heimlich, the surgeon who gave his name to the simple but dramatic procedure used to rescue people from choking, managed to save someone’s life using the technique himself for the first time since he invented it in 1974.

(His technique, called the Heimlich manoeuvre, is used for dislodging food or objects caught in people’s throats, and has been credited with saving thousands of lives around the world: On noticing a fellow resident at the senior assisted living centre where he lives, choking on a piece of meat, Heimlich, a spritely 96-year-old, calmly stepped in.

After her brush with death, the resident in question, 87-year-old Patty Ris, wrote Dr Heimlich a note, saying: “God put me in the seat next to you.”)