^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

Cover Story: The Heimlich Maneuver, Drowning and Potsie

Until a couple months ago, I had no clue that

the guy who invented the Heimlich maneuver

was still alive. Dr. Henry Heimlich – known as Hank to friends and family – is 87 and lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio. I also didn’t know that his son Peter Heimlich has been waging

a years-long campaign

to discredit his old man.

And it was news to me that Henry Heimlich spent decades fighting with the medical establishment – he promoted some pretty wacky medical theories, such as injecting AIDS victims with malaria, and performing his famed anti-choking maneuver as a first response for asthma attacks, heart attacks and drowning.

This week’s cover story is about a University of Houston professor of mathematics who trains lifeguards to perform the Heimlich maneuver on drowning victims despite claims from medical experts that it 1) makes no sense scientifically and 2) may prove deadly. John Hunsucker and Henry Heimlich – who met about ten years ago – have taken a lot of flak for their positions. Both have been accused of medical-ethics violations for allegedly conducting human-studies experiments.

Who knew? I sure didn’t.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Here are some other things I learned while researching the story:

--A nugget for movie fans: Ellen Barkin, Halle Berry, Cher, Goldie Hawn, Jack Lemon, Walter Matthau and Elizabeth Taylor all were saved from choking by the Heimlich maneuver.

--A nugget for rock fans: Peter Heimlich, estranged son of the iconic doctor, played bass as a teenager in a Cincy-based punk-rock band called Choke. He later spent years gigging in San Francisco, and even sold a song he wrote to metal queen Lita Ford recorded on her debut album. The tune was called “Rock ‘N Roll Made Me What I Am Today.”

--And a nugget for TV sitcom fans: the world-famous Dr. Henry Heimlich is the second cousin of actor Anson Williams, who played “Potsie” Weber on Happy Days. – Todd Spivak

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.