Henry Judah “Hank” Heimlich, M.D. (1920-2016), was the inventor of the maneuver that bears his name (also known as abdominal thrusts). As such, he is responsible for saving the lives of untold numbers of people, quite likely including someone that you know. Heimlich was a chest surgeon, and years before inventing the Heimlich maneuver, he also invented a special valve that kept the lungs of people with thoracic injuries -- notably soldiers who had been shot -- from filling up with blood.
Unfortunately, Heimlich later became a noted flogger of bad medicine. His descent from revolutionary medical genius to woo meister began when he started to advocate using the Heimlich maneuver as a treatment and even a preventative measure for asthma. He then began to argue that the move was the best course of action for drowning, something the American Red Cross advises strongly against (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is still the way to go).
Later, Heimlich boasted that he developed potential cures for cancer and Lyme disease, as well as an AIDS cure that uses what he calls "malaria therapy". This involves infecting a patient with malaria, with the logic that the high fever kills viruses.
- Radilolab documentary where most of this came from.
- How to save a choking victim using the Heimlich maneuver.
- "Dr. Henry Heimlich Widely Criticized" at Quackwatch.
- "Victoria Wulsin Linked to Unethical 'Malariotherapy' Experiments" at Quackwatch.
- Website by Peter Heimlich, Henry's son, where he criticizes his father, plus his blog, The Sidebar, where he also criticizes alt med.
- "Henry J. Heimlich, inventor of lifesaving technique for choking victims, dies at 96", The Washington Post.