Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Heimlich Maneuvers (And What's Ben Stein Doing With These Guys?)

Last week I alerted you to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine running misleading ads in their campaign to eliminate meat and dairy products from school lunch programs. In their arrogant veganism, the PCRM considered it acceptable to use quotes from Olympic athletes out of context, making it appear that statements simply made about healthy eating in general were actually endorsements of strict vegan diets.

Well, from a reader comes another recent story about the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine that confirms the organization is an irresponsible and rather bizarre set of folks. It's a story from LA Weekly about the PCRM hosting a gala Hollywood Art of Compassion party to celebrate the organization's 25th anniversary and to give awards to Alicia Silverstone, Marilu Henner, Ellen DeGeneres and her lesbian live-in, and to the wildly controversial Dr. Henry Heimlich.

Heimlich is internationally known, of course, for pitching the "Heimlich Maneuver" as a way to save people from choking to death. (Since 2006, the term "Heimlich Maneuver" is no longer used by the American Heart Association. It prefers to use "abdominal thrusts" and, indeed, has downplayed the procedure itself, going back to pre-1986 procedures that also include chest thrusts and back blows.) Nevertheless, there's no doubt that forms of the "Heimlich Maneuver" have saved thousands of lives.

However, there are dark clouds swirling around Henry Heimlich, making him an unusual (to say the least) candidate for the PCRM's high honors.

First of all, there is the problem of Heimlich's marketing his "Maneuver." He roundly claimed that the procedure was of great value for several medical conditions besides choking, like drowning, cystic fibrosis, asthma and even heart attacks. But not only is it quite ineffective in such cases, it can be downright dangerous.

Secondly, there's the matter of Henry Heimlich unfairly taking credit for developing the procedure. Dr. Edward Patrick believes (as do others) that he was the originator of the idea. In 2003, Dr. Patrick shyly said, "I would like to get proper credit for what I've done...but I'm not hyper about it."

Well, someone who is hyper about it is Dr. Heimlich's own son, Peter, who has launched a mini-crusade against his dad's theft of Dr. Patrick's credit as well as other double-dealing and bad medicine. In fact, he and his wife have created the web site MedFraud to expose Henry Heimlich's less savory accomplishments.

And finally, number three, there's Henry Heimlich's bizarre experimentation with "Malariotherapy." This involves the deliberate infection of a person with malaria in order to treat ailments such as cancer, Lyme disease and HIV. Heimlich has conducted these experiments in Africa despite the repeated outrage of medical professionals (including the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and human rights organizations.

So the question seems obvious, why is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, an organization which exists to lobby against the use of animals in medical research and promote plant-based diets -- and which says in its mission statement that it is "strongly opposed to unethical human research" -- giving an award to Henry Heimlich?

Very weird.

By the way, among the celebrities who were honorary committee members of the Hollywood Art of Compassion soiree were Alec Baldwin, Barbara Feldon, Ricky Gervais, Dorothy Hamill, Woody Harrelson, Mariel Hemingway, Cindy Landon Cloris Leachman, Carol Leifer, Bill Maher, Kevin Nealon, Michael Nouri, Paula Poundstone, Melissa Rivers, John Salley, Alicia Silverstone, Rick Springfield and...Ben Stein.

Huh? Baldwin, DeGeneres, and Maher certainly seem a fit with this group of sexual "progressives," political leftists and animal rights extremists. But Ben Stein? Yipes.

For more on the aberrant Dr. Henry Heimlich, check out this Radar story and MedFraud. And for more on the specific horrors of malariotherapy, see the detailed papers presented by Citizens for Responsible Care and Research. Just go to this page, scroll down to "Special Topics Malariotherapy Research" and read through the several articles there.