Choke, Gag, Wheeeeef!
March 16, 2003 6:26 AM   Subscribe

Heimlich falsely claims he invented surgical procedure. Have you ever been choking in a lovely restaurant and suddenly felt the hands of God around you, releasing forth the offending object? Henry Heimlich has long taken all of the credit for this procedure, though it had apparently been performed by Romanian doctor Dan Gavriliu at least four years before Heimlich started to make his claims.
posted by Pancake Overlord (9 comments total)
"Gavriliu maneuver" never caught on.
posted by stbalbach at 6:31 AM on March 16, 2003

Actually, I was wrong. It's not the maneuver itself that he's accused of falsely claiming as his, it's the esophogeal replacement surgery. Nevertheless, I imagine this type of thing (other doctor takes all credit) happens more commonly in the medical world than most people are aware of.
posted by Pancake Overlord at 6:35 AM on March 16, 2003

>it's the esophogeal replacement surgery

They can do that but they can't make otrivin non-addicting?

What have I been missing?
posted by shepd at 6:53 AM on March 16, 2003

If the heimlich maneuver is a surgical procedure then I'm a trained surgeon. woohoo.

but I don't think I'm a trained surgeon. (if p then q. not q. therefore...)
posted by mdn at 7:04 AM on March 16, 2003

It's not quite a maneuver. It's more a of a gesture.</izzard>
posted by jpoulos at 7:33 AM on March 16, 2003

"Gavriliu" -- is that a French name? Sounds kinda French to me. If he is French, then no wonder he lost on the naming thing.
posted by hob at 8:39 AM on March 16, 2003

Sounds definitely Rumanian to me
posted by matteo at 10:59 AM on March 16, 2003

Gavriliu gets more credit in this casual history of esophageal replacement, with the explanation that he did not publish his work in those days because he would have had to pay. It appears that Heimlich was simply much more savvy about the importance of publication as a marketing tool.

This is really a minor point, because it's not like the operations were done fraudulently or anything like that. It's just a small embarassment turned up in the course of the larger investigation of dodgy stuff at the Institute, such as the malaria injections. Really, some folks just want to take Heimlich down a notch.

If you look at the history of "invention", whether it be an operation like heart surgery or the airplane or the telephone, there are often several simultaneous inventions around the same time, all building on the same general base of knowledge. There was another patent application for the telephone received by the US patent office the same day as Alexander Graham Bell's! In the case of operations, which can have variations in extent, in equipment, or technique, it can be tricky to define exactly what is being innovated. Daniel Hale Williams -- a black doctor on Chicago's south side -- is widely credited with the first open heart surgery, yet the technique did not become common until a generation later, and there are many academic names associated with its professionalization.
posted by dhartung at 1:19 PM on March 16, 2003

If anyone has wondered how effective the "maneuver" really is, I can vouch for it. It literally saved my life. If you don't know how to do it right, I urge you to learn.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:32 PM on March 16, 2003

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