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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 16:30 GMT
Woman hurt by amateur life saver
Jean Reilly and her husband Brian
Jean Reilly and husband Brian hoped to go to Spain
A woman needed hospital treatment after a man performed a life-saving technique on her because he thought she was choking.

Jean Reilly was enjoying a meal in a bar when she spluttered on her food - prompting a fellow customer to administer the Heimlich Manoeuvre.

He applied strong pressure to her diaphragm by grabbing her from behind.

But the action led to her suffering broken ribs and serious bruising to her spleen.

Heimlich Manoeuvre
The victim should be sitting or standing
Grasp the victim from behind with your hands around his waist
Make a fist with one hand and place the thumb side on the victim's abdomen, midway between the waist and the rib cage
Grasp the fist with your other hand and thrust forcefully inward and upward
Each new thrust should be a separate and distinct movement
This can block off the supply of air to the lungs, and cause the involuntary coughing and gasping for air that we call choking.

Now Mrs Reilly, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, has been told she is unlikely to be compensated for her injuries because no one can identify the stranger who thought he was helping her.

She said: "Straightaway I was in some discomfort - in fact I was in agony."

The couple had to cancel a planned holiday to Spain and it will be some weeks before Mrs Reilly recovers fully.

John Cooper from the St John Ambulance said the Heimlich Manoeuvre should only be used as a last resort.

"Before attempting it you should get the person to cough and then give them five back slaps," he said.

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  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Kevin Bouquet
"An everyday mishap led to weeks of pain"

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See also:

02 Feb 02 | Wales
14 Jan 02 | Health
14 Jan 02 | Americas
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