Monday, August 22, 2011

Anti-animal testing icon awards $343,000 for cancer research using animals; will PCRM revoke the Heimlich Institute's "Humane Charity Seal of Approval"?

9/20/11 FOLLOW-UP: Animal rights group (PCRM) scrubs Heimlich Institute from approved "humane" charities list after my report disclosed $343,000 had been awarded for animal research at University of Cincinnati

My father and Dr. Neal Barnard at a PCRM 25th Anniversary gala, West Hollywood, CA, April 11, 2010; click here for video in which my father appears at timestamp 1:45

For decades, animal rights advocates have counted my father among their most prominent supporters.

For example, in her book, One Can Make a Difference, PETA founder/president Ingrid Newkirk wrote, "(Dr. Heimlich) is staunchly opposed to animal experiments." 

According to this website, the president of an anti-vivisection group called Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine told the Jerusalem Post, "(Dr. Heimlich is) vehemently opposed to animal experiments."

So what happens when like-minded members of the animal rights community find out that last year my father awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund medical research using animals?

How about the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)? According to the LA Weekly, my father's been on the medical advisory board of this animal rights advocacy group since 1986. PCRM even established the "Henry J. Heimlich Award for Innovative Medicine."

One of PCRM's principal objectives is to eliminate the use of animals in medical research. According to their website, my father has been an important part of those efforts:
Our video, Advances in Medical Education with Henry Heimlich M.D., which shows Harvard Medical School's outstanding alternative to old-fashioned medical school dog labs, won the Silver Plaque at the 1997 International Film and Video Competition. Produced by Steven Ragland and directed by Mark Schimmel, it was released to all medical schools and medical libraries in the U.S. and Canada.

Our second video, Innovations in Trauma Training with Henry Heimlich, M.D., along with Human Anatomy-Based Trauma Training: An Implementation Guide, shows instructors exactly how to teach trauma care without using animals. Currently, trauma courses kill an estimated 5,000 dogs every year. PCRM's video was distributed to every Advanced Trauma Life Support instructor in North America.
According to this 1996 article, PCRM founder/president Neal Barnard MD recommends donating money to my father's nonprofit because "(the Heimlich Institute) never sponsor(s) any animal experiments."

Five years later, from PCRM featured Launches Humane Charity Seal of Approval:
Charities that qualify are licensed to use the Humane Seal graphic on their educational and fundraising materials; the Seal's simple design quickly conveys the message: This charity is cruelty-free. PCRM administers the program on behalf of the Council on Humane Giving, a coalition of physicians and animal protection organizations. Charities wishing to apply for certification must sign a statement of assurance that they do not fund or conduct animal experiments.
...Thirty-some charities, including the Heimlich Institute...have received certification to date.


So how does the Heimlich Institute spend the money it receives from donors?

Last year, per this press release and media reports, the Heimlich Institute gave $500,000 to the University of Cincinnati's Hoxworth Blood Center.

Here's a photo from a January 28, 2010 press conference at which my father and E. Anthony Woods (chairman of the Heimlich Institute) presented the half-million dollar check to Hoxworth's director, Ronald Sacher MD (left):

From an article in the UC News Record, the school paper:
"As [Heimlich] starts to slow down, he wanted to make sure the money was used for purposes of saving lives," Sacher said.
From a press release issued by the school (emphasis added):
Jose Cancelas, MD, PhD, and Thomas Leemhuis, PhD, researchers at the blood center, will use the $500,000 gift to fund two projects: one looking at ways to eliminate cell damage in chemotherapy patients and the other aimed at creating cell therapies for immune-compromised pediatric patients.
Last week I obtained some interesting related documents.

Here's an October 16, 2009 e-mail submitted by Hoxworth to the Heimlich Institute's longtime vice president, my brother Phil Heimlich. Per the e-mail, grant applications for the two projects were attached. (Page down for the complete paperwork.):

Two weeks later, on behalf of the board, Phil wrote back that $343,000 was approved for the chemotherapy project.

These are screenshots from the grant application for the chemotherapy study. 

Among other questions, will PCRM remove the Heimlich Institute from their list of approved charities?

I'll ask them and will report the results.

grant application & funding approval from Hoxworth Blood Center to the Heimlich Institute

Saturday, August 13, 2011

SCOOP! (I think): Canadian Red Cross catches up with the rest of the world, makes backblows the first treatment for choking - but are they still behind the curve?

(Based on some quick Googling, I think this a scoop. But if you know of a previous media report, e-mail it to me and I'll give credit where it's due.) 

After years of lagging behind the rest of the world, the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) is finally updating their choking rescue guidelines.

Hey, I didn't say it - they did:
In many countries, the combination of back blows and abdominal thrusts has been used since the 2005 guidelines. In North America, using only abdominal thrusts was decided upon as it was easier for the lay rescuer to remember, not due to supporting evidence. Evidence now supports the combination of techniques as more successful than using only one method.

More from a CRC statement published last October:
Airway obstruction – for adults and children (one year or older), if the person shows signs of mild airway obstruction, encourage continued coughing but do nothing else. If he or she shows signs of severe airway obstruction and is conscious, apply up to five back blows. If this fails, give up to five abdominal thrusts. If the obstruction is still not relieved, continue alternating five back blows with five abdominal thrusts.
So why is Canada late to the dance? I don't know, but for decades, most of the world's first aid organizations have recommended backblows as the first treatment response.

Here's another question. Why did the CRC decide to continue to teach abdominal thrusts (a/k/a the Heimlich maneuver) rather than chest thrusts, the preferred treatment in Australia and New Zealand?

The Aussies have a straightforward explanation for their position:
Stephen Dean, Assistant CEO, St John Ambulance Australia's Queensland branch: "In the US, they still advocate the Heimlich Manoeuvre for choking but in Australia, we believe the evidence shows it is dangerous and so our guidelines don't promote it."
That argument certainly seems to be backed up this information: 
For conscious (choking) victims, case reports have shown success in relieving FBAO (Foreign Body Airway Obstruction) with any one of several techniques, including back blows/slaps, abdominal thrusts and chest thrusts. Frequently, more than one technique is needed to relieve the obstruction. However, there have been reported life-threatening complications associated with the use of abdominal thrusts.
...Severe complications from the use of this technique have been cited in the medical literature. Desaiet al. reported a case of traumatic dissection and rupture of the abdominal aorta after a forceful Heimlich maneuver. In addition to this complication, these authors cite reports of other complications occurring with the use of the Heimlich maneuver. These injuries include retinal detachment, rib fractures, and ruptures of abdominal organs. Additional injuries included rupture of the diaphragm, jejunum, liver, esophagus and stomach. Other reported injuries of vascular structures consisted of aortic stent graft displacement, rupture of the aortic valve, acute aortic regurgitation, laceration of a mesenteric vessel, and acute aortic thrombosis in both an aneurysmal and non-aneurysmal aorta.
The above is from the 2011 international first aid and resuscitation guidelines of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Now take another look at this sentence from the CRC statement posted at the top of this item:
In North America, using only abdominal thrusts was decided upon as it was easier for the lay rescuer to remember, not due to supporting evidence.
Am I missing something or is this a rationale for continuing to teach a potentially life-threatening procedure simply because they don't want to take on the job of re-training the population? 

An enterprising reporter could certainly ask the CRC to provide the supporting evidence that persuaded them to continue recommending abdominal thrusts rather than switching to chest thrusts.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Trouble in paradise: Ohio fireman gets lifesaving award for near-drowning rescue of a Korean tourist in Hawaii. But he performed an unapproved, discredited treatment on the victim - abdominal thrusts - and her condition is uncertain.

Patty Dukes, Chief of Emergency Medical Services for the City and County of Honolulu, Hawaii, with President Obama, circa 2012? (source)

On July 8, WKRC-TV News aired Norwood Firefighter Rescues Woman While on Honeymoon by reporter Dan Spehler. (Norwood's an enclave of greater Cincinnati.) 
A Norwood firefighter is called a hero after trying to save someone's life on his honeymoon. He and his wife were in Hawaii when they came across a woman who was face down in the water.
...(Philip) Reed and his wife were honeymooning on the island of Oahu near the Hanauma Bay, just east of Honolulu. They swam out toward the reef to go snorkeling. "I said hey its starting to get a little rough I think we should head back and about that time we heard some woman screaming. As we get closer we saw her pointing to the water. There was a woman face down in the water."

Reed and his wife pulled her onto the reef.
So far so good. But then this...
"I kept giving her abdominal thrusts to get water out of her. We gave her more rescue breaths."
As a firefighter and paramedic, Phil knows how to deal with an emergency. but this was different. "I have had no water rescue training." 
...and this.
(Today) he got a certificate and a letter from (Honolulu's) chief of EMS...I'm just glad we were able to do something and hopefully we gave her the best chance she had."
As for what happened to the woman...Phil was told she was on life support when they left the island. But he doesn't even (know) if she survived.
The Heimlich maneuver (abdominal thrusts) became famous as a way for people to dislodge a foreign object from a choking person’s airway. But it’s been utterly discredited as a way of rescuing a person who is drowning, and can actually do serious harm to someone who has just been pulled from the water, numerous experts say.

...The list of experts who reject the Heimlich maneuver is lengthy: The American Red Cross; the United States Lifesaving Association; the American Heart Association; the Institute of Medicine; the International Life Saving Federation and many experienced doctors and academics have strongly inveighed against doing “abdominal thrusts” for drowning victims.
...In Tampa, which has one of the highest drowning rates in the country, Dr. James Orlowski (at University Community Hospital) said he has documented nearly 40 cases where rescuers performing the Heimlich maneuver have caused complications for the victim.

Why did the Norwood fireman perform an unapproved, discredited treatment on the drowning woman? Why was he given an award for doing so?

Why did the fireman accept an EMS award and participate in a news report without even knowing if the woman was still alive?

And why did WKRC report the story without knowing whether or not the woman survived?

According to two April 18 media reports, she didn't.

From the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the islands' biggest daily:

From the website of the local CBS/NBC affiliate, Hawaii News Now:

How do I know this is the same case reported by WKRC?

First, it's not in the text version of the Cincinnati news report, but in the video, Dan Spehler says the event happened "a couple of months ago."

Based on that information, in minutes I located the two Honolulu news stories via Google.

Apparently that idea never occurred to anyone at the Norwood Fire Department or WKRC, who were busy celebrating the award.

Here it is, a certificate awarded by Honolulu City and County EMS Chief Patricia "Patty" Dukes:

Note the Honolulu EMS motto.

Next, here's an e-mail I received in response to an inquiry I sent to City and County of Honolulu. Per my red highlighting, this is when the story took an unexpected turn.
Subject: RE: media inquiry
From: Louise Kim McCoy
Date: 7/11/2011 6:21 PM
To: Peter M. Heimlich

Peter: Here are the responses to your questions.
1) Does the City and County of Honolulu EMS recommend that abdominal thrusts be performed on near-drowning victims? No, it is not part of our protocol

2) Would you please provide me with a copy of the letter and certificate Chief Dukes sent to Mr. Reed? E-mail or fax would be best. The City and County of Honolulu recognized Mr. Reed for responding to an emergency at Hanauma Bay and providing rescue breathing prior to the arrival of lifeguards. It was never reported to us that Mr. Reed had performed abdominal thrusts at the scene.

3) Would you please provide me with the date of the near-drowning, the victim's name, and the victim's present condition? On April 18, 2011, a woman was transported from Hanauma Bay to Straub Hospital in critical condition. The media reports that stated she died at the hospital soon after arrival were incorrect. We do not have information on her current condition.

Louise Kim McCoy
Press Secretary
City and County of Honolulu
I asked Ms. McCoy who provided her with this information. She answered that it came from the Emergency Services Department.

To recap, based on the above information:

On April 18 at Hanauma Bay, the Norwood fireman/paramedic and his wife happened upon a woman who was drowning. They pulled her onto a reef and, along with rescue breaths, he repeatedly applied abdominal thrusts. The woman, a 35 year-old tourist from Korea, was transported to Straub Hospital in critical condition. Later that day, two area news outlets incorrectly reported that she died.

About two months later, Honolulu EMS chief Patty Dukes sent the award to the fireman, someone told WKRC about it and Dan Spehler reported the story, characterizing the fireman as a hero. Though they all knew she had been in critical condition at the time of the accident, apparently none of these parties made any effort to verify the patient's current condition.

It's unclear what Dukes knew and when. Was she aware of the patient's condition when she presented the award? Dave Platte, News Director at Hawaii News Now, says the information his station reported originated from Honolulu EMS.

Before my inquiry to Ms. McCoy, if Honolulu EMS knew that the patient was alive, it's dead certain they made no effort to notify the media. If they had, the two news stories would have been updated. (More about that below.) 

O Ka Mea Ma'i Ka Mua. The patient is our priority. Sounds nice anyway.

I wanted to know what happened to the Korean woman, so I started making calls. Eventually I located a source who was close to the situation and who was willing to talk.

The source informed me that the woman had remained in a coma for an entire month at Straub Hospital.

Then, at considerable personal expense - $100,000 according to my source - the patient's husband arranged to have his wife airlifted to Seoul to be cared for at Yonsei University Health System.
Yonsei University Health System (YUHS) was founded in 1885 as the first modern medical institution in Korea by the American medical missionary, Dr. Horace N. Allen...As the hospital expanded over the years to include various colleges and research centers, the Yonsei University Health System was born. YUHS has been the leader of medicine and is respected as the protector of Korean health. Furthermore, the roots of Christianity, modern medical education and medical care in Korea can all be linked to YUHS.
What's her present condition?

On Monday, I spoke with Jiman Kim, Vice Consul at the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu.

I told him that I was writing about the case and he informed me that he has remained in contact with the patient's husband since the accident.

He explained that due to privacy issues, he could not share or confirm any of the details I obtained from my source.

However, he said he didn't have a problem forwarding information to the patient's husband.


Finally, last week I submitted corrections requests to the two Hawaiian news outlets that misreported the story.

Ed Lynch, Managing Editor at the Star-Advertiser, arranged a rewrite that acknowledged the error and replaced the incorrect story at the same link:

Honolulu News Now News Director Mark Platte chose the Orwellian route and simply disappeared the mistake.
Date: 7/30/2011 12:10 AM
From: Mark Platte 
To: Peter M. Heimlich
Subject: RE: corrections request re: Hanauma Bay near-drowning
Mr. Heimlich,
When we realized the Korean visitor had not died, as EMS officials told us, we removed our story from our Web site.
Thanks for letting us know the sequence of events for a future story. We will call you if we need more information.

Aloha, Mark
In a follow-up, I asked Mr. Platte, a former newspaper editor:
Based on your e-mail, my understanding is that Hawaii News Now policy is that when your station is informed that a story posted on your website includes false or incorrect information, the original story is deleted.
If my understanding is incorrect, please explain before Tuesday, August 2. Also, if you station has a corrections policy, please provide me with a copy before that date.
I haven't received a reply, but maybe that disappeared, too.

Mark Platte