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Inventor of The Heimlich Maneuver Discredited By His Own Son

By Pamela Jean     Jun 20, 2007 in Health
Dr. Henry Heimlich is most famous for his creation of "The Heimlich Manuever" used by millions to save choking victims. His son Peter says dad is a fraud and has been on a lengthy internet campaign to discredit his father. "Dad's theories are crackpot!"
Peter Heimlich thinks his father is a fraud.
He called Heimlich's theories "a whole series of discredited experimental dubious medical theories which every medical expert says are either useless, dangerous or crackpot."
Dr. Henry Heimlich first introduced his maneuver in 1974, and within a week a newspaper reporter wrote a story indicating the maneuver had successfully saved a choking victim. In 1985 it was the only recommended treatment for choking in the published guidelines of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.
However in 2006, in a highly unpublicized change of thinking, the maneuver was downgraded by the Red Cross and new recommendations set. The new guidlines now recommend first applying backslaps; and if this method fails to attempt to remove the airway obstruction. Rescuers are to then apply abdominal thrusts.
Dr. Heimlich, now aged 87, is urging the public to ignore the changes implemented by the Red Cross, and has gone so far as to encourage people to use the maneuver on drowning victims, asthma victims and those suffering from cystic fibrosis.
Medical experts caution that the Heimlich Maneuver should not be used on unconscious victims, nor drowning victims. Use of the maneuver on drowning victims or those unconscious could result in the tearing of the liver.
Peter Heimlich, together with his wife Karen, have been on a mission. A mission to discredit his father. They have spent countless hours blogging and stalking and posting all over the Internet articles, comments and letters in an attempt to expose his father as a crackpot. They've actually spent the last four years obsessed with taking down Peter's father. They have a website called whose sole purpose is to publish and post information debunking Dr. Heimlich, his techniques and his research.
20/20 recently did a report regarding the family feud. You can view the video here:
Peter's two siblings, Phil and Jan, stand by their father, and don't understand this malicious behavior on the part of their brother.
"If my father were here, he would talk about how much he loves my brother and he would talk about how painful it has been to have my brother do these things," Phil Heimlich said.
Theories that Dr. Henry Heimlich has introduced over the years include "malariotherapy". The theory involves injecting AIDS patients with the malaria virus, which according to Dr. Heimlich would cure them of the AIDS virus. His theory was first introduced 20 years ago, and has drawn much criticism from medical authorities.
On a site hosted by Peter, he includes the following quote regarding his father and his practices:
(Henry Heimlich’s career) is the biggest case of scientific fraud I’ve ever seen. The longest, the biggest and the most far-reaching, without a doubt...His ideas are insane. Some of his ideas are delusional. He has been experimenting on human beings for most of his career, and he’s no different than the Nazi experimenters. There isn’t one iota of scientific basis for this except that Heimlich said so - Robert S. Baratz MD PhD DDS, President, National Council Against Health Fraud (Portland Tribune, 4/13/07)
Dr. Henry Heimlich confirms ongoing illegal human experiments on HIV+ patients in Ethiopia.
Radar Magazine says Heimlich experiments being conducted on sex workers in Ethiopia and Gabon.
"We allow the malaria to run for three weeks, and then we cure it," says Dr. Heimlich, now 87 years-old.
In a study commissioned by Dr. Heimlich, eight human subjects have already been injected with a form of malaria in China in the 1990s, and he is now involved with a research project involving AIDS patients in Ethiopia who are initially left untreated for malaria with available medicines.
"It gives off substances that strengthen their immune systems," says Dr. Heimlich.
But leading AIDS researchers and medical ethicists say they are appalled.
The other issue at hand is, did Dr. Heimlich truly invent the maneuver himself, or did he have help. According to Peter, Dr. Edward Patrick was instrumental in the creation of the maneuver.
Peter had remembered Patrick visiting the family home in Cincinnati in the early '70s, but Patrick had always been introduced as an electrical engineering professor, not as an M.D., much less as Henry's research colleague. Patrick explained in painstaking detail how he, as an electrical engineer, had first applied engineering concepts to the problem of choking. He had a harder time describing what Henry Heimlich had contributed, but Patrick compared their partnership to that of the Wright brothers. It must have been a painful shock when, on a September day in 1985, a reporter told Patrick that Heimlich was claiming sole credit for having invented it.
When others question why Dr. Patrick would be so conciliatory regarding his hand in the medical maneuvers creation, Peter says it is clear to him why he never came forward and forced the issue.
Peter believes Patrick had good reason for not challenging Henry's sole claim to the maneuver. "I turned up some of Ed's medical license applications and other documents," Peter explains. "And they contained fake dates of birth and dubious job titles and credentials. Ed even claimed that he did three years of residencies at Jewish Hospital, all supervised by Henry." But the chief resident at Jewish Hospital at the time says Patrick was not a working resident there.
When interviewed for Radar Magazine Peter was asked how he felt about his father.
Do I wish I had a more loving father?" he asks. "I've seen friends who have loving fathers, and it seemed really strange to me. I'd say, 'Gee that would be nice.' Am I bitter? Not at all. We all get the hand we're dealt. I think I was much worse before I found out this stuff. At least I know what's real now."
I ask Peter if he hates his father.
"He's a stranger!" Peter exclaims. "Do I love him or do I hate him? I don't even know who this guy is. Do I hate what he's done? Yes. That's easy, because it's crazy, it's destructive."
To hear Peter tell it, there's nothing complicated in his Inspector Javert-style pursuit of his own father.
"Who wouldn't want to know why somebody is keeping a secret?" he asks. "That's part of the appeal. Why didn't they want me to know this? And the only answer is they knew that if I found out I'd blow the whistle.
"Which is exactly what I did," he says, allowing himself a triumphant grin.
So what do you think? Is Dr. Heimlich a mad scientist that stole another man's invention and made it his own, and continues to do ghoulish experiments on unsuspecting victims?
Or, is he a brilliant inventor that unfortunately failed to show enough love to one of his offspring, resulting in that child having a huge ax to grind against him?
Peter may say he is not bitter, but to rage such a vicious, public campaign against one's own parent is just wrong, in my opinion.
This article was presented with the prestigious TopJournalism Award by Digital Journal Editors as part of Digital Journal's Weekly Top Find Awards. Digital Journal staff review all articles published by Citizen Journalists every week, selecting the top stories for special recognition. To see a full report of all news and more details on this award, check out TopFinds.
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