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The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine salutes the life and career of Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., a tremendously innovative and creative scientist. The Heimlich maneuver, for which he is known, has saved countless lives. But it was Dr. Heimlich's unwavering compassion, and his steadfast refusal to support animal experiments, which consistently impressed his colleagues.

In 2005, he gave his name for the Physicians Committee’s Henry J. Heimlich Award for Innovative Medicine, an award that recognizes the ability to see innovative and surprisingly simple solutions to seemingly insurmountable medical issues.


Via a 2011 article by junk science debunker Joe "Dr. Joe" Schwarcz PhD, Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society:
(The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) identifies itself as a “Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting preventive medicine, especially better nutrition, and higher standards in research.” I disagree with that description. I consider PCRM to be a fanatical animal rights group with a clear cut agenda of promoting a vegan lifestyle and eliminating all animal experimentation.
Via radio talk show host Dr. Dean Edell:
Almost all the members of (PCRM) are not physicians. And I have seen every major news organization in this country get fooled. And they print this organization’s press releases as if they really were a physicians group concerned about your health…Will people realize that this phony physicians group is just PETA with a lab coat?
For three decades my father -- a dangerous quack who was fired from his last hospital job in 1977 -- was a member of PCRM's medical advisory board.

Despite PCRM's claim that it "opposes unethical human experiments," the group and its founding president, Neal Barnard MD, turned a blind eye to my father's notorious offshore experiments in which U.S. and foreign nationals suffering from cancer, Lyme Disease, and AIDS, were infected with malaria -- a quack treatment my father called "malariotherapy." Experts have called the "research" a medical "atrocity."

For decades my father used his media access to claim that his namesake maneuver should be used to revive drowning victims and published fraudulent case reports to support his baseless claims. The result? Dozens of poor outcome cases including kids. Over the decades PCRM recklessly promoted the treatment via a PSA and press releases, and Dr. Barnard -- whose medical training was in psychiatry -- promoted "the Heimlich for drowning" on ABC 20/20 and in published letters to newspapers in which he claimed my father was a "medical pioneer."  

Perhaps the ultimate irony? PCRM relentlessly campaigns against medical research using animals and traded on its affiliation with my father, hailing his namesake anti-choking maneuver for saving "countless lives." My father developed the treatment using lab dogs.

Dr. Barnard ignores my inquiries, but here's a good question for a reporter to ask him: Would PCRM have tried to shut down my father's research that produced "the Heimlich"?

Finally, for intrepid reporters looking for a good byline, PCRM has been around since 1985 and regularly gins up media coverage by filing dubious lawsuits and engaging in stunts like posting billboards with inflammatory messages. Nevertheless, the organization has never been the subject of a serious news profile. Why not pitch the idea to your editor/producer?

Questions for me? Just ask.

I. PCRM turns a blind eye to the Heimlich Institute's medical "atrocity" experiments
With compassion and an amazing ability for getting to the essence of problems, Dr. Henry J. Heimlich has saved countless lives. And, as we learn in the pages of this remarkable book, no one has ever lived a life remotely like the inspiring journey that has been Dr. Heimlich’s. I recommend that every medical student, every doctor, and everyone who needs to see the potential of the human spirit read this wonderful book and take its lessons to heart. - Jacket quote for my father's autobiography (Prometheus Books,February 2014) from Neal Barnard MD, PCRM's founder/president (source)

“To me, (Dr. Heimlich) stands for the very best of medicine, which is selfless innovation and compassion and wanting to get the job done to save lives,” (Dr. Neal) Barnard said. “He’s a role model.” from Profile: Polarizing Doctor, Henry Heimlich by Lucy May, WCPO Insider, March 2014.
Via a PCRM job listing:
We oppose unethical human experiments.
From Ethics in Human Research, posted on PCRM's website:
PCRM advocates higher ethical standards in conducting human research and providing access to medical treatment.
From Neal Barnard Advocates for Ethical Medicine, Research by Rosanne Skirble, Voice of America News, March 2, 2009:
If humans were being abused in research or if animals were being used when alternatives could be used instead, (we) deal with those.
From Heimlich Maneuvered -- A gala at Cindy Landon's honoring a top scientist discredited by his son gets a venue change by Paul Teetor, LA Weekly, April 8, 2010
They're calling it a celebration of compassion. But critics don't see any compassion in "research" that injects cancer patients with malaria viruses — sometimes for a cost of up to $10,000.

In both its mission statement and its IRS filings, the Washington, D.C.–based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) says it is "strongly opposed to unethical human research."

But the group is throwing a private Hollywood Art of Compassion bash Sunday night to hand out a major award named after Dr. Henry Heimlich, who has been condemned by mainstream medical organizations around the world for his 20-year program of trying to cure cancer and AIDS by injecting people with malaria-infected blood.

...Heimlich won't respond to the critics -  led by his estranged son - who are questioning the award named after him. Peter Heimlich says his father's malariotherapy research has been denounced as dangerous and irresponsible by the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. In 2002 the WHO called malariotherapy "an example of clearly unscrupulous and opportune research." Five years later, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said: "It is scientifically unsound, and I think it would be ethically questionable ... and it does have the fundamental potential of killing you."

Now the younger Heimlich asks, "How can the PCRM reconcile all that criticism with its position against unethical research? Why won't my father or anyone at PCRM answer that question?"

Henry Heimlich used to crave media attention. Not anymore.

"I don't want to discuss the award, or my research," the 90-year-old Heimlich says today. "I don't think I'll be at the party...Please contact Dr. Barnard."

Neal Barnard founded PCRM in 1985, and still serves as president of the nonprofit organization, which has a $7.5 million annual budget and 35 paid staff. Barnard frequently appears on TV and radio as an advocate for animal rights in medical research.

Barnard declined repeated requests for comment.

My father & Neal Barnard MD at the April 11, 2010 PCRM gala (source)

From Scientists linked to Heimlich investigated -- Experiment infects AIDS patients in China with malaria by Robert Anglen, Cincinnati Enquirer (front page), February 16, 2003

(Dr. Heimlich's) experiments - which seek to destroy HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, by inducing high malarial fevers- have been criticized by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration and condemned by other health professionals and human rights advocates as a medical "atrocity.''
From A group of physicians files a federal complaint against UMMC by Julie Straw, WLBT-TV (NBC affiliate), Jackson, MS, January 24, 2011
First-year medical students at University of Mississippi Medical Center often learn through hands-on lab exercises involving live animals, in most cases pigs. The pigs are euthanized when it is over. 

...On the web site homepage for Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine or PCRM, there is a piglet and a plea for UMMC to stop pig labs.

...In a new twist, the son of a famous doctor is speaking out against PCRM.  Peter Heimlich, son of Dr. Henry Heimlich who created the Heimlich maneuver, claims his father allegedly used people for controversial medical research. Dr. Heimlich serves on the board for PCRM which fights for ethical treatment of animals and humans.

"My concern is the organization seems to put the interest of pigs above human beings who are being subjected to violative medical research," said Peter Heimlich. 

PCRM has been criticized by others as being a "PETA front group" and even promotes a vegan diet on their web site.

"I'd say they're fools," said (PCRM's Dr. John) Pippin. '"We don't have any relationships with any industries. We don't do this for money.  We do it because it's the right thing to do."
Click here to download December 2008 correspondence between prominent Mayo Clinic physician/medical historian Eric Matteson MD and Dr. Pippin regarding my father's "malariotherapy" experiments and PCRM's relationship to my father.

Via Just who is the group protesting live animal training in Fargo? by Bradford Arick, Valley News Live, April 6, 2017:

II. PCRM puts the public at risk by promoting the use of the Heimlich maneuver to resuscitate drowning victims

1992 PSA produced by PCRM promoting the Heimlich maneuver for drowning rescue

The list of experts who reject the Heimlich maneuver (for drowning rescue) is lengthy: The American Red Cross; the United States Lifesaving Association; the American Heart Association; the Institute of Medicine; the International Life Saving Federation and many experienced doctors and academics have strongly inveighed against doing “abdominal thrusts” for drowning victims.

...In Tampa, which has one of the highest drowning rates in the country, Dr. James Orlowski said he has documented nearly 40 cases where rescuers performing the Heimlich maneuver have caused complications for the victim. Orlowski is chief of pediatrics and pediatric intensive care at University Community Hospital in Tampa.

“You’ve got one man and a few small supporters,” Orlowski said, ”that continue to push this in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Click here for a compilation of published reports and statements by medical and water safety organizations (Institute of Medicine, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, US Coast Guard) warning against the use of the Heimlich maneuver (abdominal thrusts) for near-drowning.

From Use of the Heimlich maneuver may not always be wise by Paul Stevenson, Deseret News, August 27, 1994

"The Heimlich maneuver has already saved so many lives," said Dr. Neal Barnard, president of PCRM. "It should be part of standard procedure in treating drowning victims."

From the September 22, 2004 Philadelphia Weekly in response to Deadly Medicine, a September 15, 2004 expose by staff reporter Steve Volk, about the dangers of performing the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims and the dubious evidence my father has used to promote the treatment:

I am not surprised to see that my good friend and colleague Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., is involved in medical controversy. Every scientific pioneer has to weather plenty of adversity in bringing innovations forward, and Dr. Heimlich is certainly one of the leading medical pioneers of our time.

But I would like to encourage those involved in these controversies to take seriously the medical conditions we are facing. Dr. Heimlich had to push for 11 years to win endorsement of the Heimlich maneuver for choking victims. The rest, of course, is lifesaving history, with more than 60,000 people in the United States alone saved from choking to death.

Dr. Heimlich is right to point out the value of using the Heimlich maneuver to clear water from the lungs in near-drowning cases. Rather than waste minute after agonizing minute in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when the lungs are filled with water, the maneuver clears the water out. Mouth-to-mouth can then begin, but often victims begin breathing on their own without it.

Dr. Heimlich demonstrates that innovative thinking remains the best tool we have in research and in healthcare generally, and I always encourage medical students and young physicians to follow his example.

Neal D. Barnard, M.D.
President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Washington, D.C.

From the October 6, 2004 Cleveland Scene in response to the August 11, 2004 cover story, Heimlich's Maneuver - Henry Heimlich is Ohio's most revered doctor. He may also be the most dangerous. Ask his colleagues -- and his son by Thomas Francis, about the dangers of performing the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims and the dubious evidence my father has used to promote the treatment:

I was surprised to see the recent attack on my good friend Henry Heimlich, a man whose work has saved thousands upon thousands of lives.

Dr. Heimlich has sought the most direct and effective solutions to health problems. The elegantly simple Heimlich maneuver swept aside the more complicated and largely ineffective first-aid techniques that had gone before it. And using the maneuver to clear water from the lungs in near-drowning cases is sensible, quick, and life-saving.

Needless to say, all medical pioneers have to swim against the current at many points, and Dr. Heimlich has had the courage to do so. He pushed for 11 years to win endorsement of the Heimlich maneuver for choking victims, and because of his insistence, more than 60,000 people in the United States alone have been saved from choking to death.

At 84, Dr. Heimlich is still active in research and the practice of responsible medicine. He shows that innovative thinking remains our best tool in revolutionizing health care. I salute Dr. Heimlich and encourage young physicians to follow his example.

Dr. Neal Barnard
President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Washington, D.C.

The following clip of Dr. Barnard hyping the use of the Heimlich maneuver for near-drowning rescue comes from the June 8, 2007 ABC 20/20 report, Is Dr. Heimlich Really a Savior? by Brian Ross. Click here to view the entire report which opens at a 2007 PCRM gala in Washington, DC with actor Alex Baldwin introducing my father.

From my letter to the editor, Here is the rest of story regarding Dr. Neal Barnard and Dr. Heimlich, published June 16, 2012 by the Fargo, ND, Inforum newspaper:
Based on my experience, the headline “The full Neal deal: Fargo-born nutrition advocate doesn’t avoid controversy” for Tammy Swift’s May 20 feature about Dr. Neal Barnard got it wrong.

Barnard has repeatedly avoided discussing his controversial relationship with my father, the physician famous for “the Heimlich maneuver.”

...After reading The Forum’s profile – which identifies Barnard as “a psychiatrist in training” – I wrote him and asked if he and his organization continue to recommend performing the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims.

Despite multiple emails and faxes, I haven’t received a reply.

III. My father developed his namesake anti-choking maneuver using lab dogs -- would PCRM have tried to shut down his research?

Via The Physicians Committee Remembers Henry J. Heimlich for Innovative Medicine, December 17, 2016, PCRM news release:

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine salutes the life and career of Henry J. Heimlich, M.D., a tremendously innovative and creative scientist. The Heimlich maneuver, for which he is known, has saved countless lives. But it was Dr. Heimlich's unwavering compassion, and his steadfast refusal to support animal experiments, which consistently impressed his colleagues.
Via Henry J. Heimlich, inventor of lifesaving technique for choking victims, dies at 96 by Sindya H. Bhanoo, Washington Post, December 17, 2016:
By training, Dr. Heimlich was a thoracic surgeon, or a specialist in chest surgery. When he began developing the Heimlich, in 1973, he was the chief of surgery at the Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati.

...Dr. Heimlich knew that air remained in the lungs after an exhalation. That air, he believed, could be used to expel an object. He experimented on four anesthetized beagles and eventually realized that with an upward thrust into the soft tissue under the diaphragm, an object could be dislodged from the throat.
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