Monday, November 24, 2014

NYC "ozone therapy" practitioner describes recent trip to treat Sierra Leone ebola patients -- and the country's president -- claims his project was funded by Rotary

Ever heard of "ozone therapy"? 

In contrast, Forbes Magazine included ozone therapy in a 2009 list of the "Most Dangerous Health Scams":
One of a number of unproven “therapies” offered at expensive cross-border clinics, ozone therapy involves infusing the blood, body cavities or drinking water with triatomic oxygen, in order to kill “HIV and cancer virons [and] arthritis microbes” [sic] while enriching the blood, according to one Web site. The Environmental Protection Agency considers ground-level ozone to be a pollutant that causes significant health risks.
(Coincidentally, the Forbes list also includes my father's claims that malaria could cure cancer, Lyme disease and AIDS.)

For more contrasting opinions, click here for a keyword search of "ozone" on the website of the American College for Advancement in Medicine ("The Voice of Integrative Medicine"). Click here for the same search on ("Your Guide to Quackery, Health Fraud, and Intelligent Decisions").

In an October 31 interview with conducted by Lynn Doyle via a NewsMaxTV program called Meet The Doctors, Robins discusses his recent trip to Sierra Leone to treat ebola patients with ozone therapy. 

According to the interview, the project was prematurely terminated by the Minister of Health, but not before he treated the country's president, Ernest Bai Koroma.

Cynthia Oremi Jarrett-Thorpe and President Ernest Bai Koroma (source)

Was President Koroma ill? I've asked for a statement from Cynthia Oremi Jarrett-Thorpe of Sierra Leone's consulate in Atlanta (near where I live). She e-mailed me that she's working on my request.

Here's the NewsMax interview from which I transcribed and time-stamped some highlights.

(:55) Robins: We got (to Sierra Leone) late at night, saw that all our cargo had come in with us with all our medical supplies and equipment. The next morning we went right over and trained about eighty to a hundred doctors and nurses who were gonna be on the front lines fighting this. Over the next three days we trained individual groups of these doctors to make sure they knew how to do this intravenous therapy well and we wound up with a handful who we thought were the best.

Howard F. Robins DPM and Robert J. Rowen MD, apparently in Sierra Leone (source)

(1:50) I went with Dr. Robert Rowen from Santa Rosa. California, and he also has been training doctors in ozone therapy, so the two of us were able to do this in a rather intense way.

(2:15) The older what they call senior doctors there were very skeptical, so it took us about, just a few hours to win them over with the science of it and then when we went into the clinic and started doing it on them and treating them and having them treat each other, that was the finishing touch. They were just ready to go. 

Doyle: And you actually treated some of the highest members of the government of Sierra Leone.

Howard F. Robins and Robert Rowen MD with photo of Presidents Obama and Koroma (source)

Robins: Well, you can't get higher than President Koroma. And after meeting with him, he invited us back to his home that evening and this is isn't just like a home, this is like getting into the White House. And we went back to his home, spent an hour and a half, and I personally got to treat President Koroma who actually trusted me to do this on him without any security around him and he saw the ease of it, the safety of it and immediately wanted us to get into the clinics to do this.

Doyle: And yet you did not get into the clinics to do it.

Robins: Well, this was an interesting and very unfortunate situation that happened. I left a week ago Wednesday night at midnight [presumably October 22] to come home. Dr. Rowen stayed two more days. We were finally getting in that Thursday morning. After meeting with the major who at this clinic there called Hastings, which is in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, the major and all the healthcare workers were fighting over who's gonna get the therapy first so they would strengthen themselves against getting the virus themselves and a call comes through from the deputy assistant to the minister of health. And he says if they do this therapy on anyone there including the healthcare workers they're gonna lose their jobs. A few minutes later the minister of health calls and confirms this. So it never happened that day at the clinic.


(4:20) Robins: We met with  (Palo Conteh, Sierra Leone's new ebola czar). His only question was, why aren't we in there now doing it? The president wanted us in there doing it....

On the right, Kojo Carew MD (source)

(5:25) Robins: The latest that just came in around this is that the doctor we were working with, Dr. Kojo Carew, refused to treat any of the ministers and their families who were now clamoring for the therapy. He was going to Liberia 'cause he knows the president of Liberia, to threat the people there.

Robins: Well, what happened was, we get an e-mail from Monty Jones, the special adviser to the President Koroma, saying we'd like to renegotiate you coming back to Sierra Leone and doing the therapy in the clinics and that's the position we're in right now, so we think it may still survive and it may actually happen.

But wait, there's more. 

According to Doctor to Test Ozone Therapy Against Ebola by Nick Tate, NewsMaxHealth, September 24, 2014, the Sierra Leone trip was conducted under the aegis of Rotary International.

Via a November 25 post on, November 24, 2014, here's what Dr. Rowen wrote:

According to a website called ClubRunner, here's the board of the Central Nassau County (New York) Rotary:

(Another "one degree from my father" coincidence, Cincinnati's Rotary Club funded what appears to be an unsupervised experiment to test the use of the Heimlich maneuver to treat asthma in which dozens of children in Barbados were research subjects. Reportedly my inquiries triggered a government investigation.)

What about the quarantining of members of the ozone treatment project when they returned to the U.S.? 

If another reporter doesn't beat me to it, I'll blog a follow-up item about that.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

SCOOP: Carol Spizzirri named as defendant in Annabel Melongo's federal civil rights lawsuit

Carol Jean Spizzirri -- whose once high-flying, politically-connected Save-A-Life Foundation nonprofit is now under investigation by the IL Attorney General -- has been named as a defendant in a sweeping federal civil rights lawsuit filed by attorney Jennifer Bonjean on behalf of her client Annabel Melongo

For those interested in political corruption and abuse of the legal system by public officials, the 26-page complaint, filed November 5 in U.S. District Court in Chicago, makes for lively reading.

Click here to download a copy or page down to view.

Via the San Diego Reader

To read about the sordid history of Spizzirri (who per the complaint, now lives in San Marcos, California) and her tainted organization, don't miss Where Did the Save-A-Life Money Go? by Don Bauder, San Diego Reader, November 17, 2010.

A few weeks ago, the office of the IL Attorney General confirmed to me in writing that their investigation of SALF, which started in July 2010, is ongoing.

For more details, see Illinois senator seeks answers on possible $9 million misappropriation by Erin Murphy, Dubuque Telegraph Herald, June 26, 2013.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Against the recommendations of the Heart Association and Red Cross, the Dallas-area American College of Emergency Physicians recommends doing "the Heimlich" on UNCONSCIOUS choking victims -- I can't get answers from ACEP, so I've asked the Texas health commisioner for help

Via Facts About ACEP and Emergency Medicine:
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the oldest and largest national medical specialty organization representing physicians who practice emergency medicine. With more than 32,000 members, ACEP is the leading continuing education source for emergency physicians and the primary information resource on developments in the specialty.

...The College continually monitors trends in the health care environment and analyzes issues affecting emergency physicians and their patients.
So why does ACEP recommend a choking rescue treatment that is not recommended by the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, or the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR)?

The treatment?

Performing the Heimlich maneuver on unconscious choking victims.

Via ACEP's website and their booklet entitled What To Do in a Medical Emergency:

My layman's understanding is that the Heimlich maneuver (aka abdominal thrust) creates an artificial cough so that a choking victim may cough out a solid foreign body stuck in their throat.

But if you're unconscious, you can't cough, right?

Also, and I may have missed something, to my knowledge there is no published research that supports the treatment.

But I have no medical training and I'm just an amateur researcher.

If a prominent emergency medicine organization like ACEP recommends a medical treatment, presumably they have their reasons.

In an attempt to learn those reasons, for the past week I've sent multiple e-mails to ACEP representatives at their Dallas headquarters trying to get answers to these questions:
1) Approximately when did ACEP begin recommending abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver) as an effective treatment for unconscious choking victims?

2) Please explain the basis for that treatment recommendation, including citations to relevant published research.
I've gotten multiple confirmations of receipt, but not even a courtesy reply.

Rather than chase the organization, today I sent this letter to the commissioner of the Texas health commissioner requesting that he ask ACEP to answer my questions. (Click here to download a copy.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part V]: Schmidt refused to answer my questions about Kickstarter fundraising claims

Jason Schmidt (large photo) and The Maneuver's production team: his wife Ellen Kitchen Schmidt (top right) and presumably Morry Galonoy, Charlotte Fuller, Helen Russell, April Thibeault. Sam Rider, Dennis Yuen, Matt Israel, Shane Rettig, and Jason's brother Justin Schmidt. (source)

Per my previous four items in this series, a July Kickstarter campaign raised about $32,000 to fund The Maneuver: The Inside Story of Dr. Henry Heimlich, a proposed documentary film about my father's life and career.

Jason Schmidt is a freelance film editor based in New York City who's hoping to make his directorial debut with the project.

Recently I e-mailed Mr. Schmidt a handful of fair questions regarding false and/or dubious claims in the Kickstarter campaign, and if he intended to inform the 298 donors who funded his project.

He refused to answer any of my questions.

Briefly, the Kickstarter fund raising page included the false claim that actress Halle Berry was saved from choking by "the Heimlich" -- she denied it in a recent Hollywood Reporter expose -- and other questionable claims that suggest the filmmakers may not have a basic grasp of the material.

Then there's an "original retro-style artwork" by South Carolina artist Margaret Mattox that was offered as a premium to donors.

On the left is Ms. Mattox's artwork, flipped horizontally. On the right is a copyrighted 1979 illustration by the late Frank Netter MD.

Here's my exchange with Mr. Schmidt -- his reply's at the top. (Click here to download a copy.)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part IV]: False and questionable claims made in Kickstarter fundraising campaign

On the left is Margaret Mattox's artwork, flipped horizontally; on the right is Dr. Frank Netter's 1979 illustration

In part I, I reported that I refused to participate in a shoestring budget documentary project about my father being made by freelance video editor Jason Schmidt because he wrote me that was willing to accept funding from my father, his "sympathetic associates," and from "deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors" I might steer to him.

In part II, I reported that my father's press agent, Melinda Zemper, wrote me that she issued a press release hyping the project and helped fund it via Kickstarter because she's personal friends with Schmidt whom she called "an ethical, competent journalist."

In part III, I reported about "original retro-style artwork" by South Carolina artist Margaret Mattox offered as a premium to Kickstarter donors. Mattox's drawing of a man performing the Heimlich maneuver bears a striking resemblance to a 1979 work by the renowned medical illustrator, Frank Netter MD. (Original? Not so much. Retro? Definitely.)

The Kickstarter campaign raised about $32,000 in July.

It also raised questions about the responsibility of Kickstarter recipients to those who fund their projects.

The fund raising pitch stresses that the filmmakers "believe in this story."

That claim is undermined by this example that suggests Schmidt may not even have a grasp of the basic material.

In fact, the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross incorporated the Heimlich into their choking rescue guidelines in 1976, only two years after my father introduced the treatment.

By any measure that's a remarkably rapid acceptance for any new medical treatment.

It's also a milestone that anyone who had done even cursory research into the history of the Heimlich maneuver would know.

Via my father's recent memoir:
(In 1976, the Red Cross) changed its policies, advocating that people use both back slaps and what it called “abdominal thrusts.” By “abdominal thrust,” the organization meant the Heimlich Maneuver.
In a recent e-mail, I asked Schmidt which of "the biggest organizations in the medical establishment" his fund raising pitch was referring to.

Here's his non-answer:
I'd be happy to look over any information you have regarding that subject.
In other words, Schmidt learns from yours truly that his project may have used a false claim to raise funds. In response, he provides no information to back up his project's claim. Instead, this so-called "ethical, competent journalist" asks me to send him information.

If that's how much Schmidt "believes in this story," Melinda Zemper may want to ask her friend for a refund.

Further, the Kickstarter campaign offered this premium:

Call me a stickler-in-the-mud, but I have a problem with the film having a business relationship with my father.

But at the moment that's a secondary point.

My main point is that Schmidt apparently hasn't read my father's book. If he had, wouldn't he have known that the treatment was almost immediately accepted "by the biggest organizations in the medical establishment"?

Here's a fair and perhaps loaded question.

After a Kickstarter campaign ends, if the recipients learn that the campaign included false information, should they inform donors?

The above example may be a case in point.

The following definitely is.

Here's a screen shot of information prominently posted near the top of the Kickstarter page.

As Sidebar readers know, via Seth Abramovitch's scorching August 14 Hollywood Reporter report, How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure," actress Halle Berry has denied the claim.

Are the "collection of talented colleagues and friends" and family members making the film (see below) aware of the Hollywood Reporter article?

If they read their own Facebook page, they are.

If they've read the THR story -- and I think's safe to assume Schmidt did -- then they're aware that the Halle Berry claim on their Kickstarter page is apparently a lie.

So should their Kickstarter page be corrected?

And should donors be made aware of the false claims? Or is Kickstarter a "caveat emptor" operation?

I'll start asking questions and will report the results.

Jason Schmidt (large photo), his wife Ellen Kitchen Schmidt (top right) and presumably Morry Galonoy, Charlotte Fuller, Helen Russell, April Thibeault. Sam Rider, Dennis Yuen, Matt Israel, Shane Rettig, and Jason's brother Justin Schmidt. ("Presumably" because the photo didn't have a cut line, but the names are listed here.)

Part V: Jason Schmidt refuses to answer my questions about false and/or problematic claims in his project's Kickstarter funding campaign

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part III]: Concerns re: "original artwork" offered to Kickstarter donors

In part I, I reported that in April I was approached by freelance video editor Jason Schmidt who's trying to make a documentary about my father. I refused to participate when he wrote me that he was willing to accept funding from my father, his "sympathetic associates," and from any "deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors" I might steer his way.

In part II, I reported that my father's press agent Melinda Zemper wrote me that she issued a press release hyping the project and helped fund it because she's personal friends with Schmidt, and that my sister Janet Heimlich, one of my father's most ardent defenders, also donated funding.

Let's move on to Schmidt's recent Kickstarter campaign which raised about $32,000 (including the donations from Zemper and my sister).

Potential donors were offered various premiums including:

Click here for the website bio of artist Margaret Mattox of Johns Island, South Carolina.

Let's take a closer look at her artwork and do a horizontal flip:

Here's artwork by renowned medical illustrator, the late Frank Netter MD:


That image and other fine illustrations by Dr. Netter were used in a 1979 pamphlet published by CIBA, the pharmaceutical giant, consisting of an article co-authored by my father and the late Milton H. Uhley MD (pronounced "yu-lee").

Dr. Uhley, a Beverly Hills "physician to the stars" (including Marilyn Monroe), was no stranger to big pharma.

A 20-page July 21, 1995 California Medical Board complaint against him (see below) included allegations of gross negligence for excessive narcotics prescribing (including 1890 Percocets for one patient), prescribing to addicts, repeated negligent acts, incompetence, and other charges.

He surrendered his California medical license on September 26th, 1996.

Uhley was one of at least three doctors with whom my father was associated who lost their licenses for excessive prescribing of narcotics.

Two of them did prison time.

One of them, the late Gerson Carr MD, had been a surgical resident under my father at Jewish Hospital in the early 1970s.

After Carr's parole from a New Mexico state prison in 1982 -- which my father told me he helped arrange -- my father hired Carr to be "Research Director" at the Heimlich Institute when the organization was located on the campus of Cincinnati's Xavier University.

Here's a good question for any serious filmmaker making a documentary about my father's career.

Why was Dr. Maneuver associating with so many narco docs?

Part IV: Other problems with the film's Kickstarter fund raising campaign

Part V: Jason Schmidt refuses to answer my questions about false and/or problematic claims in his project's Kickstarter funding campaign 

This item has been slightly revised/updated.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Why I'm not participating in Jason Schmidt's dubious documentary project about my father [Part II]: The project was funded by my father's press agent, who says she's personal friends with Schmidt

Longtime Heimlich Institute publicist Melinda Zemper wrote me that she's personal friends with Jason Schmidt, who's making a documentary about my father -- she helped fund Schmidt's project and sent out a press release to help with his fundraising.
In my previous item, I explained my principal reason for refusing to be interviewed for The Maneuver: The Inside Story of Dr. Henry Heimlich. 

That's the title of a documentary about my father that freelance video editor Jason Schmidt is trying to get off the ground via Media Schmedia LLC, his New York City-based company.

When Schmidt first approached me in April, I bailed pronto after he e-mailed me that he had no problem accepting funding from my father or his "sympathetic associates." He even invited me to steer donors to him:
I imagine you're dancing around the question of whether or not this project is funded by your father or sympathetic associates? If that's the case, you can be assured that no such money has been offered or accepted. Perhaps that will change...and likewise, if you know of any deep-pocketed patrons/benefactors interested in supporting a great project, I'm all ears.
Clearly he's not bothered with pesky concerns like maintaining the appearance of objectivity. 

The part he wrote about "no such money has been offered or accepted. Perhaps that will change"?

In fact, that changed just a few months later, via the project's Kickstarter campaign, which raised about $32,000.

Via Kickstarter, here's one of the backers:

As Sidebar readers know, Melinda Zemper is longtime press agent for my father's nonprofit Heimlich Institute.

Here's a screen shot from Documentary film on Dr. Henry Heimlich in works, Zemper's June 4, 2014 press release hyping the project:

In other words, the Heimlich Institute's press agent funded Schmidt's project via Kickstarter and issued a press release hyping the project in which she steered potential donors to the project.

On June 28, I sent Zemper these questions:
1) I presume you sent out the press release on behalf of your clients, the Heimlich Institute and Deaconess Associations, and that Media Schmedia is not your client, correct?

2) How much money did you contribute via Kickstarter?

3) Do you have any other financial interest in the film?

4) Is your funding of the film your own money or are you being reimbursed by your clients?
Here's her complete reply, dated June 30.
Hello Mr. Heimlich,

You are making wrong assumptions in your email below.

1) I submitted a press release supporting MediaSchmedia [sic] based on a personal friendship I have with Jason Schmidt, not on behalf of any client.

2) How much money I contribute to a Kickstarter campaign is none of your business and not of interest to media you copied on this email. It was a personal donation that is rather small in comparison to his actual needs, but the donation was intended to encourage Schmidt’s first foray into creating independent films. Jason Schmidt is an ethical, competent journalist who has won a variety of awards for his film work. Please view his website:

3) No, I do not.

4) The donation is personal; there are no clients involved in my donation to Schmidt’s documentary film on Dr. Heimlich. The film is an independent journalistic endeavor and not underwritten by the Heimlichs. That is why Schmidt implemented a Kickstarter campaign. Oak Tree Communications helped Dr. Heimlich obtain media coverage for his memoir. That project has since been completed and I am not working with Dr. Heimlich at this time.

Melinda Zemper
Oak Tree Communications
Some things I'd like to know.

Does "an ethical, competent journalist" making an ostensibly objective documentary about Henry Heimlich accept funding from Henry Heimlich's publicist?

Does "an ethical, competent journalist" allow Henry Heimlich's publicist to issue a press release hyping the film and encouraging donations?

Wouldn't "an ethical, competent journalist" be aware that these conflicts make him appear to be compromised?

And exactly how did Schmidt and Zemper get to be pals? 

Here's another of my father's "sympathetic associates" from whom Schmidt accepted funding via Kickstarter:

My sister Janet has been one of my father's most ardent defenders in the media, she edited his recently-published memoir, and she appears in this fund raising trailer for Schmidt's documentary. 

Part III: A Problematic "Heimlich Artwork" Kickstarter Premium and My Father's Relationships with Narco Docs

Part IV: Other problems with the film's Kickstarter fund raising campaign

Part V: Jason Schmidt refuses to answer my questions about false and/or problematic claims in his project's Kickstarter funding campaign