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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE April 7, 2005

National Medical Group Creates Award In Honor of Henry Heimlich

Seattle Inventor to Become First Recipient

WASHINGTON–The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes preventive medicine and alternatives to animal research has created a new award in honor of physician Henry J. Heimlich of Cincinnati, who developed the famous Heimlich Maneuver. The award, the Henry J. Heimlich Award for Innovative Medicine, will be presented to Seattle inventor Christopher Toly on April 16 at PCRM’s 20th Anniversary Celebration. The celebration will be hosted by actor Alec Baldwin and attended by a host of other celebrities, including Alicia Silverstone, Darryl Hannah, singer Emmylou Harris, and Heimlich himself.

“Dr. Henry Heimlich’s vision and incredible creativity are responsible for medical advances that have saved tens of thousands of lives,” said PCRM president and founder Neal Barnard, M.D. “He is the embodiment of innovation, compassion, and getting the job done. His work has inspired researchers and medical students to break convention, think creatively, and focus on what counts: saving lives.”

In addition to developing what came to be known as the Heimlich Maneuver, Heimlich also invented the Heimlich Chest Drain Valve, used in cases of severe chest trauma to drain blood and air out of the chest cavity. Introduced in 1964, the device was barely five inches long and cost just one dollar to produce, but it made Dr. Heimlich a hero in the Vietnam War era, saving the lives of thousands of wounded American and Vietnamese soldiers. Today more than 250,000 Heimlich valves are used worldwide each year to treat patients following surgery or with chest wounds.

Dr. Heimlich’s work with PCRM began in the late 1980s, when he spoke out against the cruel dog-drowning experiments some had proposed for testing the Heimlich Maneuver. He later narrated a video produced by PCRM and the Massachusetts General Hospital to illustrate Harvard Medical School's new alternative to animal laboratories in medical education. Working with PCRM’s president Neal Barnard, M.D., he produced a series of PCRM public service announcements on first aid, preventive medicine, and nutrition, and spoke out for the reform of federal dietary guidelines.

Mr. Toly receives the award in recognition for his invention, TraumaMan, a human simulator that replaces the use of dogs in trauma training exercises for surgeons and emergency physicians. The manikin is an exact replica of a human torso that is so lifelike, it bleeds when cut. Toly has also developed simulators for other procedures, such as laparoscopic surgery.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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