Arthur Lih, III is the Inventor and CEO of LifeVac, an upper airway clearance device that can save someone from choking to death. The device has saved 78 lives around the world to date—including the lives of 27 children. We spoke to Arthur, dad to Jackie (15), about what spurred him to launch this life-saving product, how it works, and why he wants every family to have access to one.
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Why did you decide to launch LifeVac?
Nine years ago, I went to visit a friend who had a parent in the hospital. He pointed to an empty gurney and said the last time he visited his mother there was a 7-year-old boy who choked to death on a grape. In my mind I saw that moment and pictured a dead child on the empty gurney. I asked “Why didn’t they perform the Heimlich on the child?” He told me that the Heimlich maneuver did not work. They could not remove the grape from the boy’s windpipe and the child died. My friend explained the pain experienced by the parents and how upset the medical staff was. Everyone was devastated that they could not save the 7-year-old boy. At that time, my little girl was seven years old. I said to myself, I cannot let that happen to my daughter. I wondered why the Heimlich did not work and wanted to find out why. I started my research about choking and found out that Heimlich only works about 50% of the time when performed by untrained people and that statistic goes up to 70% if you are trained in Basic Lifesaving Skills. I realized that BLS statistic was not good enough for me. I decided to come up with something that could help me save my little girl in a choking emergency.
What is your professional background and how has that helped you in this endeavor?
I started in the shipping business when I was 17 and learned everything about the business from the ground up. After years of working for someone else, I decided to create a shipping company from scratch with a partner. Our company started with four people in a little closet. My experience building that company was crucial and contributed to our success when I started this company. I built LifeVac with my own invention, created in my garage many years ago. My previous career in shipping helped with the logistics so we can ship products around the world. I created something from nothing. We built LifeVac into an International Medical device company, that is dedicated to saving lives around the world.
How has being a father influenced your mission?
When you become a parent, you learn what true love really is. Your heart is consumed with love for your child. After that hospital visit with my friend, when I heard a child died because he choked on a grape, my heart hurt for that family. I could not imagine watching my daughter die in my arms. During a choking emergency, it only takes 4 to 8 minutes for your child’s brain to die and the child you love is gone. The love you have for your child cannot be measured and that is why I invented LifeVac. As a father it is my job to protect my family. I could not find another device to save my child in a choking emergency. The odds of having the Heimlich work were not good enough for me. Choking is a leading cause of death in children. My love for my daughter pushed me forward to invent a device to save my child. I know other parents love their children like I love mine. When I finally created a working device, I felt obligated to share LifeVac with parents and caregivers throughout the world.
What is your favorite story of someone being helped by your product?
I have two stories to share. Killian is a one-year-old boy, the first child that I met who was saved by LifeVac. The feeling was beyond words when I held Killian in my arms. My heart was filled with gratitude to know he is alive today because his family saved him using LifeVac. The second story happened a few years ago. I was standing in my kitchen at home when I received a text message from our LifeVac office in the United Kingdom. LifeVac saved our first life! I learned the details about the elderly man who was saved by LifeVac in a nursing home located in UK. I created LifeVac because of my daughter named Jackie. I found out that the first person to use LifeVac to save a life was a nurse named Jackie. That was a God Wink. I was confident that LifeVac was doing God’s work and we were destined to save more lives. That was truly one of the most powerful moments in my entire career.
If a parent is going to choose one product to purchase, which is the most important one?
Parents should purchase the home kit. The kit comes equipped with a ‘tester’ mask to practice using the device in case of emergency. Moms can demonstrate to their caregiver, another parent or grandparent and show the proper way to use LifeVac. We believe all parents should have a LifeVac kit in their homes. We recommend a Travel Kit for your vehicle to have when eating at restaurants or visiting family and friends. We want to make sure anyone who supervises children understands how to use LifeVac and is prepared in the choking emergency.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I want you to know that a small group of determined people can change the world. Choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death. Our LifeVac staff wants to stop senseless choking deaths in the future. LifeVac supporters can Change the World!
Last question…What is your ultimate goal with LifeVac?
My goal is to save One Million Lives before I die. That is my goal…and that is my only goal! We believe it is possible. Over 160,000 people choke to death around the world each year. We can achieve this goal! I will go out kicking and screaming to fulfill our mission!
This story is sponsored by LifeVac. Go to lifevac.net learn more details about how LifeVac Saves Lives. Use code LOCALMOMS for 10% off your order!