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LifeVac – A dad-made device to clear an obstructed airway

Shared by André Dias on 2022-02-11 14:25

About the solution

Arthur Lih, an inventor and father to a 17-year-old girl, Jackie, created LifeVac, a suction device capable of removing an object trapped in upper respiratory airways.

In 2011, while visiting a hospitalized friend’s parent, Arthur heard the story of a mother who lost her 7-year-old son. The boy had chocked with a grape, despite back blows and Heimlich manoeuvres. At that time, Arthur’s daughter was 7, leaving him wondering what could he do to prevent a situation like that to happen to his girl. After researching, he found out that Heimlich manoeuvre only works in 50% of cases in children, if the person is untrained to do it, rising to 70% if trained. Therefore, he thought of creating a device that could be used as a third line, that is, something that could be used in case the Heimlich fails, but before initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In line with other inventions, LifeVac was also created in a garage. It consists in a kit with adult and pediatric masks and a plunger-like device. It is only intended to be used after repeated failed Heimlichs. After a good seal with the mask, the plunger-like device is used just like a normal plunger. To prevent increased pressures, it has a unidirectional valve, stopping air from coming in and allowing to create a negative pressure while pulling. This way, it is capable of removing the trapped object.
With this idea and a previous knowledge in the shipping business, Arthur was able to take his garage idea international. To date, 280 persons were allegedly saved by the device, the last one being a 5-yearl-old boy, in January 2022, who was chocking with a gummy.

Although LifeVac has proved to be effective in some studies comparing it to Heimlich manoeuvre, the UK resuscitation council does not support its use, mainly due to the possibility of skipping or delaying effective treatments, such as back blows and Heilmlich, and to the lack of safety or effectiveness studies.

Therefore, as Arthur also states, LifeVac can be lifesaving in case Heimlich manoeuvre fails, and not as its substitute. Furthermore, CPR, if needed, should not be delayed because of LifeVac use.

Adapted from: Meet a Dad: Arthur Lih, the Inventor & CEO of LifeVac | Beach Cities Moms.
Further information: LifeVac | Save a Life in a Choking Emergency | Choking Rescue Device; RCUK’s policy on the use of suction-based airway clearance devices on choking victims | Resuscitation Council UK


This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Arthur Lih is the founder and CEO of LifeVac. Also, as a father, he felt the need to make a device that could help if traditional treatments for acute airway obstruction fail, not only thinking on his daughter, but everybody.

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