Saturday, February 15, 2014

Prometheus Books publishes my father's long-debunked lie that the American Friends Service Committee provided "tens of thousands" of Heimlich chest valves to the North Vietnamese during the war

[UPDATE] See my March 31, 2014 item, My letter today requesting Prometheus Books to retract my father's "gross distortion of Vietnamese and U.S. history"

Via New autobiography tells story of the man behind the Heimlich maneuver by Chris Boyette, CNN, February 12, 2014:
(Yesterday, Dr. Henry) Heimlich, 94, released his autobiography, "Heimlich's Maneuvers'' (published by Prometheus Books).

...Heimlich's son, Peter Heimlich, writes a blog, on which he has spent years trying to draw attention to his father's "wide-ranging, unseen history of fraud."
Not always unseen.

Paul Kurtz PhD (source)

Sometimes my father's scams are so obvious it's difficult to believe anyone would fall for them, certainly not a publisher like Prometheus Books, founded by the late Paul Kurtz, a prominent debunker of junk science

Nevertheless, from Chapter 17 of Heimlich's Maneuvers, here's a mawkish, absurd story my father has told for years and which has been published in a handful of other publications:
I remember another incident in which I was overcome with emotion. It occurred in February 1993, when I was invited to accompany a team of twenty cardiac and thoracic surgeons to Vietnam, a trip arranged by the citizen ambassadors of People to People International...In Hanoi, our plane was met by a contingent of North Vietnamese cardiac and thoracic surgeons. The head of the Vietnamese delegation introduced each member of our team until he came to me.
“Dr. Heimlich, you need no introduction,” I remember him saying. “Everyone in Vietnam knows your name.” I assumed he was talking about the Heimlich Maneuver, but, in fact, he was referring to the chest drain valve. “Your valve has saved tens of thousands of our people during the war, both civilian and military,” he said. I never knew the North Vietnamese had used the valve during the war. It had been supplied to them by the Quaker organization American Friends Service Committee. The next morning, at a meeting of American and Vietnamese doctors, the chairman opened his session saying, “Dr. Heimlich will live forever in the hearts of the Vietnamese people.” Hearing his words, I cried openly.
Reading my father's words, I sighed openly.

Apparently the editors at Prometheus are unfamiliar with the Trading with the Enemy Act and/or didn't stop to consider the consequences of a U.S. organization allegedly providing medical supplies to an enemy army and population during wartime.

My wife Karen, me, and investigative reporter Thomas Francis

Apparently they also don't read Radar Magazine.

From Thomas Francis's two-part Radar expose about my father, published in November 2005:
Next, Peter and Karen took aim at a lesser-known invention, the "Heimlich chest drain valve," which was used on the battlefield in Vietnam to save soldiers from dying of a collapsed lung caused by a chest wound. According to Heimlich's press statements the invention saved tens of thousands of lives, including among the North Vietnamese, after the American Friends Service Committee shipped valves to both sides in the war. Henry often tells the story of a trip to Vietnam during which he received a hero's welcome because of his valve.

But the Quakers have no record of distributing the valve. Peter contacted the American Friends Service Committee, the Quaker group that provides aid in foreign conflicts. "They checked deep in the archives and contacted several staffers from the '60s," says Peter. "No one had even heard of the Heimlich valve." AFSC spokeswoman Janis Shields says that if the valves had been shipped to North Vietnam, there would have been documents. The AFSC's shipments to North Vietnam consisted primarily of penicillin.
Eight years after being busted for a preposterous lie that distorts Vietnamese and U.S. history, and which implies that the AFSC and Heimlich valve manufacturer Becton, Dickinson and Company committed treason, it's unclear why my father continues to tell the story.

It's also unclear why Prometheus Books was willing to publish it.

I'll try to get answers to those questions and will report the results in a follow-up. 

screenshot from Heimlich's Maneuvers

This item has been revised.