Wednesday, August 14, 2019

My letter today to Portsmouth, VA, Navy medical program under fire from "fanatical animal rights group" (PCRM)

Click here to download a pdf version.

August 14, 2019

John Devlin MD, Director
Emergency Medicine Residency Program
Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
620 John Paul Jones Circle
Portsmouth, VA 23708

Dear Dr. Devlin:

I’m the son of the late Henry J. Heimlich MD, known for “the Heimlich maneuver” anti-choking treatment. I have a journalism background and since 2003 research into my father’s career by my wife and me has resulted in scores of mainstream print and broadcast news reports that exposed my father as a remarkable – and dangerous – humbug.

Via an August 9, 2019 press release, Doctors Ask DoD to Investigate Naval Medical Center Portsmouths Live Animal Use:
(The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) has filed a petition for enforcement with the Department of Defense (DoD), requesting that the DoD immediately investigate the use of live animals in medical training occurring at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP).

...“Studies and individuals from the Navy, Army, and Air Force have all concluded that simulator-based training is equivalent to or even superior to live tissue training ,” said John Pippin, MD, FACC, Physicians Committee director of academic affairs.
Per my website and blog, I’ve been a critic of the Washington, DC-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and it’s founding president, Neal Barnard MD, because of his group’s problematic three-decade relationship with my father.

Since PCRM is on the warpath against your program, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some information which in my opinion raises reasonable questions about whether PCRM’s actions are motivated by evidence-based science or emotion-drivcn allegiance to our four-legged friends.

I’m also including a 1991 letter in which my father appears to thank Dr. Barnard for helping to fund notorious offshore experiments conducted by Cincinnati’s now-defunct Heimlich Institute in which U.S. Lyme Disease patients were infected with malaria, a quack “cure” dad called “malariotherapy.”

Via PCRM’s website:

The Physicians Committee is dedicated to saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.


Creating a healthier world through a new emphasis on plant-based nutrition and scientific research conducted ethically, without using animals.
Via a 2011 column, junk science debunker Joseph A."Dr. Joe" Schwarcz PhD, Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society, expressed a somewhat different opinion:
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 numerous published articles from 1994 to the present which I’ve compiled on my blog, PCRM has been called an “animal rights” activist group, a perspective that presumably triggered their attempt to disrupt your program.

Along those lines, via this profile of him in the Spring 2011 issue of American Dog magazine, Dr. Pippin minced no words about his priorities:
“I am about animal protection, a position that focuses on ending our abuse and killing of animals for food, research, drug and product testing, education, entertainment, hunting, and all other human purposes,” (Dr. Pippin) says. “I’m also about a fundamental level of animal rights, because I believe that all sentient creatures - human and nonhuman - have an inherent right to freedom from abuse and killing. This means, of course, that I support the no-kill animal shelter movement.”

Two pivotal events led Dr. Pippin to a life of protecting and saving animals. The first was in 1987 when he realized that animal research is not only horribly cruel, but also a fraud that cannot prevent or cure human diseases. This epiphany changed his career and made him a vocal critic of animal experimentation. The second was in 2004, when Dr. Pippin had to choose between continuing to advocate publicly against animal research and keeping his career as founding director of cardiology at Cooper Clinic in Dallas. He chose the animals, and has never regretted the choice.

“Animals have nobody but the animal protection community between them and egregious misuse, abuse, and death at the hands of our species,” he says. “For those of us with true hearts for animals, such evils as eating, wearing, fighting, breeding, imprisoning, hunting, and experimenting on our animal kin must be ended.”

For the past six years, Dr. Pippin has worked full time with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine…
Some may disagree that eating a BLT or wearing leather shoes is “evil,” but clearly Dr. Pippin brings strongly-held personal convictions to his work.

Back to my father, who in 1977 was fired for misconduct from his last hospital job, arguably dad’s most notorious scam was “malariotherapy.” Despite having no background in immunology, from the early 1980s until his death in 2016, dad claimed infecting patients with malaria could cure a variety of diseases.[1]

From the late 1980s until at least 2005, dad’s shady Heimlich Institute conducted a series of unsupervised offshore experiments in which U.S. and foreign nationals suffering from cancer, Lyme Disease, and AIDS were infected with malaria.

Via Scientists Linked to Heimlich Investigated by Robert Anglen, Cincinnati Sunday Enquirer, February 16, 2003:
(Dr. Heimlich's experiments) 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.''
Further, via a 2014 Hollywood Reporter expose, How Dr. Heimlich Maneuvered Hollywood Into Backing His Dangerous AIDS "Cure":
(An) investigation into Heimlich's fundraising efforts was undertaken by the major frauds section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Fast forward to the day after dad died via a December 17, 2016 media release, The Physicians Committee Remembers Henry J. Heimlich for Innovative Medicine:
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, [2] an award that recognizes the ability to see innovative and surprisingly simple solutions to seemingly insurmountable medical issues.
...“Dr. Heimlich was the embodiment of innovation, compassion, and getting the job done,” says Physicians Committee president Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C. “His work has inspired researchers and medical students to break convention, think creatively, and focus on what counts: saving lives.”
I can’t account for PCRM’s unwavering admiration for my dad which presumably includes “malariotherapy,” described by Lyme Disease patient Cyndi Monahan of New Jersey in Heimlich's Maneuver?, an article in the June 1991 issue of American Health:
"Within two days I started to get fevers as high as 106 degrees"...After Monahan's return from Mexico City, life consisted of hours of fever followed by chills - and intense pain. "My lower back felt like a truck slammed into it and I found that a malaria headache is the most excruciating pain you can imagine." Her New Jersey doctor allowed the malaria to persist untreated for five weeks. During that time she logged 130 "fever hours," when her temperature exceeded 101 degrees. She vomited constantly, lost 40 lb. and required intravenous fluids to compensate for dehydration. "We went until my body couldn't take it anymore," she recalled, "and then I took the antimalarial drug"...

"I'm going back for another treatment," she says. "Dr. Heimlich told me I may have to do it again. He's made all the arrangements with the doctors in Panama."
As it happens, per this letter donated by my dad to the University of Cincinnati’s Henry J. Heimlich Archival Collection, Dr. Barnard may have helped pay for Ms. Monahan’s “treatment”:
May 30, 1991

Neal D. Bernard, M.D.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
P.O. Box 6322
Washington, D.C. 20015

Dear Neal:

I received your generous donation of $1,000.00 on May 20. Thank you so much for your continuing support of our research projects.

I'm pleased to report our first group of Lyme disease patients has completed malariatherapy at the clinic in Panama and their induced malaria is being cured. In fact, I leave tomorrow so that I can be there this weekend. The results so far are gratifying, and we hope to see even more progress in the weeks to come.

In about an hour, Susan and I will be meeting with Mike Handley to discuss the PSA's to focus on responsible medicine.[3]
Keep in touch. As soon as I have finished documenting our recent malariatherapy group, a report will be sent to you for your interest.

Thought you might care to see the enclosed speech given at graduation of Eastern Virginia Medical College.

Thank you again for your support.


Henry J. Heimlich
The Heimlich Institute
2368 Victory Parkway Suite 410
Cincinnati, OH 45206
Further, for decades Dr. Barnard and his organization advocated my father’s reckless 40-year promotion of the Heimlich maneuver (abdominal thrusts) as a treatment for near-drowning.

Even after research by my wife and me revealed that since 1974 dad used fraudulent case reports to promote his now thoroughly-discredited claims, in letters to newspapers and on ABC 20/20, Dr. Barnard continued to hype the treatment, whose use has reportedly been associated with dozens of poor outcome cases, including children.

So much for “responsible medicine.”

Finally, regarding the use of animals for training or for medical research, I have zero knowledge of the subject, therefore no opinion.

I do, however, have a devil’s advocate question.

Via Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary published in the June 1974 issue of Emergency Medicine in which dad first described the treatment he subsequently named "the Heimlich maneuver."
Every year in the United States, 3900 healthy people strangle on food stuck in their tracheas. That’s more people, by the way, than are killed each year in accidental shootings.
...What's really needed then is a first aid procedure that doesn't require specialized instruments or equipment and can be performed by any informed layman - or even considered by a physician before resorting to tracheostomy with its attendant hazards. So, experimentally at least, I have developed such a procedure. It's been tested only on dogs but I believe the logic of the concept and the favorable findings warrant public dissemination.

...Standing behind the victim, the rescuer puts both arms around him just above the belt line, allowing head, arms, and upper torso to hang forward. Then, grasping his own right wrist with his left hand, the rescuer rapidly and strongly presses into the victim's abdomen, forcing the diaphragm upward, compressing the lungs, and expelling the obstructing bolus.

...The procedure is adapted from experimental work with four 38-pound beagles, in which I was assisted by surgical research technician Michael H. McNeal. After being given an intravenous anesthetic, each dog was "strangled" with a size 32 cuffed endotracheal tube inserted into the larynx. After the cuff was distended to create total obstruction of the trachea, the animal went into immediate respiratory distress as evidenced by spasmodic, paradoxical respiratory movements of the chest and diaphragm. At this point, with a sudden thrust. I pressed the palm of my hand deeply and firmly into the abdomen of the animal a short distance below the rib cage, thereby pushing upward on the diaphragm. The endotracheal tube popped out of the trachea and, after several labored respirations, the animal began to breathe normally. This procedure was even more effective when the other hand maintained constant pressure on the lower abdomen directing almost all the pressure toward the diaphragm.

We repeated the experiment more than 20 times on each animal with the same excellent results When a bolus of raw hamburger was substituted for the endotracheal tube, it, too, was ejected by the same procedure, always after one or two compressions.
Since dad used beagles in his research, if they’d had been around at the time, would PCRM have attempted to shut down the research and thereby presumably derail the development of the Heimlich maneuver which, according to PCRM’s remembrance of my father, “has saved countless lives”?

If someone poses that question to Drs. Barnard, Pippin, and/or Reina Pohl MPH (the media contact on PCRM’s press release about your program), I’d be curious to know the response.

Thanks for your time/attention and I’d welcome your thoughts/questions.


Peter M. Heimlich
Peachtree Corners, GA 30096 USA
ph: (208)474-7283
Twitter: @medfraud_pmh

[1] My father credited the work of Julius Wagner-Jauregg, a German eugenicist and Nazi sympathizer as his inspiration.

[2] To my knowledge, PCRM hasn’t presented the award since 2010 at a celebrity-studded event that was reported by the LA Weekly.

[3] Presumably dad was referring to a series of video PSAs promoting PCRM in which he appeared.