Thursday, March 24, 2005

Florida neurologist that claims that he can help Terri Schiavo might be a quack

To put this short:

This is a sad case of parents wanting their child to remain alive, and a husband arguing that it's more humane to let her die, since there’s no living will. This case has all the issues included: State power over medical decisions, death, religion, family disagreements on death, public protests, quackery and more.

And everyone is trying to take advantage of the vulnerable and easily-influenced, example here:

Media Matters for America (MMFA) has printed this article about Dr. William Hammesfahr. It appears that he’s "a Nobel Prize nominee for his work in helping people with severe brain injuries".

There are hundreds of web sites claiming that William Hammesfahr was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1999.

Some may claim that the "nomination" of Hammesfahr for the Nobel Prize is well-documented in this web site.

I did some research on this topic:

The Secretary of the Nobel Prize Committee has provided this information:

Thanks for your letter and point about our confidentiality regarding nominees. Specific answers to your questions:

1) All nominations, nominees and nominators are kept in strict confidentiality here for 50 years.

2) There is no way for any person to get confirmation/message from here whether they were nominated or not for any year during the last 50 years.

3) Therefore, if anyone claims being nominated it is never with support from here and should not be regarded as a valid claim.

4) The Nobel Foundation acts on all misuses of the Nobel name, but do not always act on nomination claims since there are so many who claim nominations that the Nobel system simply leaves them without specific action and only inform to all asking that nomination claims are by definition non-valid.

Hans Jörnvall, Professor
The Nobel Committee
Karolinska Institutet
Box 270
SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-33 39 31
Fax: +46-8-32 03 65

Furthermore, the only ones who are allowed to make official nominations, are the following:

The Nominators - Physiology or Medicine

Right to submit proposals for the award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, based on the principle of competence and universality, shall by statute be enjoyed by:

1. Members of the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm;

2. Swedish and foreign members of the medical class of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences;

3. Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine;

4. Members of the Nobel Committee not qualified under paragraph 1 above;

5. Holders of established posts as professors at the faculties of medicine in Sweden and holders of similar posts at the faculties of medicine or similar institutions in Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway;

6. Holders of similar posts at no fewer than six other faculties of medicine selected by the Assembly, with a view to ensuring the appropriate distribution of the task among various countries and their seats of learning; and

7. Practitioners of natural sciences whom the Assembly may otherwise see fit to approach.

Decisions concerning the selection of the persons appointed under paragraphs 6 and 7 above are taken before the end of May each year on the recommendation of the Nobel Committee.

Prize-Awarder: The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm

I therefore conclude that Bilirakis is not qualified to nominate Nobel Prize winners. This is the letter signed by Congressman Michael Bilirakis, and it's not legitimate as a nomination, much less as support for a claim to have been nominated.

Furthermore Dr. Hammesfahr has never published any article that I could find using Pubmed. Well, I found Hammesfahr, but not the William Hammesfahr. Nobel Prize nominess would be expected to have hundreds. I think that’s a bit unusual for someone claiming, that they were nominated.

Searching the web archive I didn’t find anything indicating that he was nominated for anything, either.

Trying to find something about Hammesfahr to establish his "expert" credentials one way or the other, he showed up on Quackwatch over a quackery related issue.

To me this guy has very little credibility. It seems that he is more interested in self-promotion than helping.

It's a sad story, but more sad is that quacky doctors are trying to take advantage of Schiavo's prognosis (obviously not good). He should be held accountable, so people don't ever seek out his advice again.

Some few useful and informative links:
Another side of the coin
Key events in the case of Theresa Marie Schiavo
Medical info from
University of Miami Ethics Programs

See who links to your web site.