Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

This series of posts, appearing one each Tuesday, deals with unnecessary death due to false belief. Some time ago I realized I had been focusing too much on religious belief—faith healing and such. It’s time to  pour some attention onto death caused by alternative medicine (alt-med). Here’s the case of Lorie Atikian:

The quackery-related death of a 17-month-old girl has sent shock waves across Canada. No one aspect of the story is unusual. The scenario is a classic combination of cultural vulnerability, modern urban mythology and quackery.

The Victim

Dead from malnutrition and pneumonia is Lorie Atikian. Eight months before her death on September 25, 1987, Lorie was a perfectly healthy baby. When she died she was nearly bald, covered with deep red rashes, and so emaciated that the paramedics thought they were being tricked by being given a doll to treat.

The Parents

Lorie’s parents Sonia, 38, and Khochadour, 54, are emigres from Lebanon and Syria. In addition to Lorie, the couple has two teenaged children. Like many people these days the Atikian’s were concerned about modern food additives, pesticide residues, and drugs. Their cultural background may have made them a bit more vulnerable, but like most people they held positive attitudes toward “natural” food and medicine. Sonia became enamored with Gerhard Hanswille, an “herbologist.”

The “Herbologist”

Gerhard Hanswille, 55, says that he learned herbology in Germany through self-study and books (Germany has a tradition of folk medicine that includes a great deal of Medieval herbalism). In 1972, Hanswille obtained a mail order doctoral degree in naturopathy from “Bernadean University” (BU) located at that time in Las Vegas, Nevada. BU, which was never approved or accredited to offer any courses, was closed down by the Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education in 1976. It then moved to California where it operated for several years before eventually becoming “authorized” under the State’s liberal rules (Aronson, 1983). California has tried to close BU but has been blocked by its claim to being a religious school of the Church of Universology (Emshwiller, 1987).

Hanswille owns two “House of Herbs” stores, writes and gives seminars at which he expounds his theories, which include making wax and clay effigies sealed with drops of blood and sperm (notions founded in Monism and Vitalism which are the basis of most primitive folk medicine). Hanswille’s book describes how to heal diabetes, epilepsy, TB, tumors and paralysis by “touchless massage.” Hanswille likens the technique to dowsing for water, something that “not everyone can do.” Sonia paid $450 to take Hanswille’s course.

Much as I take satisfaction laying the deaths of innocents at the feet of Jesus, this time he was apparently taking a few days off.

 

 

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

False belief kills in remarkable ways. It can take something that does nothing at all and turn it into a killer:

December 4 2001 12:11 AM

According to a secret diary kept by the late Jacqueline Alderslade (55), of Hollymount, Co Mayo [Ireland], the homeopath told her to stop all medication, except for a Ventolin inhaler, immediately.

Ms Alderslade, an interior designer and secretary, began the diary on June 29 when she first visited Mineke Kamper, a practicioner of alternative medicine, of Mulranny, Co Mayo.

Ten days later, while driving to Mulranny for an appointment with Ms Kamper, Ms Alderslade stopped her car after becoming seriously ill and died despite the efforts to revive her by a passing motorist.

Who needs Jesus when we are willing to take the task upon ourselves?

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

It’s Tuesday again. That means another person has died from stupidity. This week:

Mr Xiao is wanted over the death of the young diabetic boy who allegedly died a few days after attending his alternative medicine seminars in Hurstville, NSW in April 2015.

Emergency services found the Year 1 student unconscious and not breathing at the Ritz Hotel in Hurstville after the boy and his family left the workshop.

The boy’s father, mother and grandmother also face charges.

Paramedics performed CPR but the boy could not be revived.

Police allege the boy was deprived of food and insulin during the course, run in Tasly Healthpac medical clinic.

Mr Xiao, Fairfax Media reports, claims to be a former Wall Street banker who developed an alternative medicine technique known as a paidalajin.

Paidalajin involves stretching, fasting and slapping the body to the point of bruising.

That was this year, 16 years into the 21st century. Foolishness dies hard. Often innocence is collateral damage.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Not much belief is worth dying for. Often there is foolishness that challenges the gag reflex:

Family of Jehovah’s Witness who died after refusing blood transfusion can’t keep suing doctors

The family of a Jehovah’s Witness who died after repeatedly refusing blood transfusions can’t sue the hospital where doctors begged for a chance to save her life, a state appeals court ruled.

The case, outlined in an opinion by Superior Court Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan, involves a convergence of religion, medicine and the law.

Its focus is on what happened before Terri Seels-Davila, a Jehovah’s Witness missionary, died after giving birth at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia in November 2010.

Seels-Davila, who had been serving on mission with her husband in Nicaragua, chose Hahnemann because of its “bloodless medicine” program for patients who won’t agree to having blood transfusions, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Shogan noted. The treatment plan for Seels-Davila called for recycling her own blood back into her system.

About time I am left completely speechless. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Sorry, Jesus. You didn’t get this one. There are multiple ways to die, and to die needlessly must be the cruelest. Like a slap in the face:

Three people have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a diabetic woman died following a workshop based around slapping as a form of “self-healing”.

Danielle Carr-Gomm, 71, was found dead in her room on 20 October at Cleeve House in Seend, Wiltshire.

An inquest was opened and adjourned on Friday. Wiltshire police are treating Carr-Gomm’s death as suspicious and confirmed the arrest of three people, who have been released on bail until mid-January.

Of course, you can always fall back on Jesus. He will welcome you with open arms.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Tuesday again, and Jesus has taken another innocent life to quench his blood lust. This time it’s 8-year old Clayton Nixon enjoying the embrace of the heavenly one:

Blair couple’s faith healing appeal denied

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

By Tom Gibb, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. — The U.S. Supreme Court said yesterday that it won’t hear the appeal of a Blair County couple who spurned medicine, put their trust in faith healing and lost two of their 13 children to treatable illnesses.

Barring a last-resort appeal, Dennis and Lorie Nixon will go off sometime in the next 30 days to spend 21/2 to five years in state prisons, leaving behind their Hollidaysburg-area house and 10 children still living at home.

Clayton died of a treatable ear infection. His parents were sentenced to  125 hours of community service. Blessed be the ways of the Lord.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Tuesday again and another reminder that:

  • It’s not only Jesus who kills.
  • Human stupidity is one of the most deadly forces working.

From CNN early in May:

Anti-vaccine groups blamed in Minnesota measles outbreak

It would be comforting to believe this is a case of immigrants being ignorant, but the truth is that anti-vaccine nonsense is ripe in solidly Anglo-American culture. Since stupidity appears to not be inherited but is an acquired trait, Darwin is not going to solve this problem.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

This is not going to be a story about somebody who died. This is about people who died, but not for the attributed cause. The anti-vaccination site Vaccine Impact regularly publishes stories of death attributed to vaccination, and this one wound up in a link on my Facebook feed:

After 3 Years of Suffering 19 Year Old Girl Dies from Gardasil Vaccine Injuries

Kate was very tall for her age and a very accomplished athlete before receiving the Gardasil vaccine. She died at the age of 19 after suffering for years.

And there is additional detail, including a plug for the film VAXXED and links to other horror stories. What the article does not disclose is Kate’s last name, but you can get it from watching a video linked on the page. Her name is Kate Wright, and a Google search on “Kate Wright Gardasil vaccine” brings up details not available from Vaccine Impact.

The only one of my search results that turned up Kate Wright’s case was the one on Vaccine Impact. A significant body of the remainder pointed to  the false claims being made by the anti-vaccine movement, regarding Gardasil in particular. Snopes has an item about a different Gardasil case:

On 11 August 2014, the alternative medicine web site Health Impact News posted an inaccurate and poorly documented article entitled “Gardasil Vaccine: One More Girl Dead,” which blamed the death of 12-year-old Meredith Prohaska of Waukesha, Wisconsin — whose mother had found her face-down on the floor and unresponsive six hours after being vaccinated on 30 July 2014 — on the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil:

Snopes continues with a dissection of the Wisconsin case. The girl did receive a Gardasil vaccination, and she did subsequently die. However, the coroner’s examination  found the girl died from other causes:

This proved true in the Meredith Prohaska case. In October 2014, the Waukesha County medical examiner announced that an autopsy found no evidence that the vaccination caused or contributed to the girl’s death. The actual cause of death was determined to be diphenhydramine intoxication — diphenhydramine being an antihistamine drug, the main ingredient in over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl. Somehow (the details of the manner of death weren’t made public), the girl had ingested a fatal overdose of the drug.

Health Impact News published its story before the coroner’s findings were reported, and they never followed up with a correction.

Some background may be useful. I obtained this from Wikipedia:

  • HPV is the human papillomavirus.
  • HPV infection is a sexually-transmitted disease.
  • Nearly all cervical cancer cases are due to HPV infection.
  • In 2012 266,000 deaths resulted from cervical cancer, taken to be a typical year.
  • Gardasil 9 is Gardasil variant that protects against nine different types of the HPV and will prevent 90% of cases of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is treatable, and mortality rates vary from 59% to 67%, along a racial divide. It can be assumed that untreated cervical cancer will prove fatal,  since the cancer will metastasize. Sound advice is available from additional sources. This from Forbes, which includes the following:

Here Is How We Know Gardasil Has Not Killed 100 People

And another interesting take:

Regarding the supposedly damning video interview with Jenny Thompson of Health Sciences Institute:

Note that this video deals primarily with subjects such as the political and moral issues involved with requiring HPV vaccinations for young girls, the notion that vaccinated girls might mistakenly believe they had been immunized against contracting sexually transmitted diseases (other than HPV), and the claim that cervical cancer deaths can be effectively eliminated through means other than HPV vaccinations. It offers no real evidence that Gardasil vaccinations are dangerous other than to cite the raw VAERS data referenced above (without noting that analysis of those reports failed to establish a causal link between HPV vaccinations and the reported serious adverse events).

Both the above refer to VAERS, which is the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

Vaccination against HPV is most effective when administered to young girls, and it is often given free in public schools. To the extent the anti-vaccine campaign prevents girls from getting the vaccine, some those unvaccinated will die from cervical cancer, another case of dying to believe.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Modern science brings us knowledge that can save lives, but stupidity remains a prime killer. Little Lukas S. is the most recent to grace this column:

A seven-month-old baby died weighing just 9lbs after his parents fed him an alternative gluten-free, lactose-free diet, a court has heard.

The mother and father, who ran a natural food store in the town of Beveren in Belgium, insisted on putting their son Lucas on an alternative diet that included quinoa milk, according to local media. Doctors warn that such a diet is generally unsuitable for such young children.

His diet led to him being less than half the expected weight for a boy his age, weighing 9.47lbs — just over the average weight for a newborn baby — before he died on 6 June 2014.

This news item from The Independent also reports Lucas’ parents drove him across his home country of Belgium to  a homeopathic doctor rather than seek reliable medical treatment.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Ruthless dictators come, and ruthless dictators go, but Jesus never sleeps. He is always present to welcome you into his arms, especially if you are young and helpless, and your parents are clueless. Today we honor Monica Johnson, just nine years old. She’s with Jesus now:

The most recent victim here, 9-year-old Monica Johnson, was pronounced dead on arrival Sunday at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Police officers took her to the hospital after her parents called for help, saying she had difficulty breathing and had a rash.

Keep your young ones close to you, and cherish their lives. Jesus is at the door.