Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Continuing from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine. Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Alternative medicine (AltMed) is one of today’s significant mass murderers. Take the case of Mahendra Gundawar:

Alleged abuse of homoeopathic drugs by mixing them with liquor has taken four lives in Vidarbha over the past six days.

While two died in Nagpur, two more died in Bhadravati town of Chandrapur district, one of them being a homeopathic doctor himself. Two persons are fighting for their lives in Bhadravati and one from Nagpur is being treated for serious complications in a hospital.

Brother of the homoeopath and owner of a homeopathic pharmacy (name not yet on police record) and Pravin Khedkar, a cable TV worker, died in Nagpur, and Mahendra Gundawar, a homeopath and his friend Bandu More, died in Bhadravati.

Prashant Lakhe, who is fighting for his life in a private hospital in Nagpur, suspected to have consumed a “tonic” with Khedkar and the unnamed victim by mixing it with alcohol in a party on December 11. The brother of the homoeopath died first while Khedkar died on December 13. Gundawar died on December 11 and More succumbed to the effects on Sunday.

Those who believe the United States does not have this problem may need to check some on-line sources. Reliance on homeopathic remedies is a world-wide phenomenon. Keep reading. There will be more.


Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Continuing from last week, I’m posting more on death by alternative medicine (alt-med). Some time ago I picked Tuesdays to carry the sad news about people dying from false belief. Homeopathy is a wrong-headed notion put forward by Samuel Hahnemann (see above) in 1796. It continues to kill 221 years later. Today I present the case of Ralph Gonzalez:

The Arizona Medical Board will take up an administrative law judge’s recommendation that Normann’s medical license be revoked permanently, an action that could prohibit him from practicing medicine in the United States again.

According to testimony in the administrative hearing, Normann created “a surgical nightmare” at his office in Anthem, where work was so shoddy that three patients died during or after liposuction.

Normann performed only one of the procedures, allowing unlicensed individuals to do the others.

Unsealed exhibits from the Arizona Medical Board’s case against Normann are mostly uncontroversial, although the exhibit list itself reveals some interesting information.

Evidence was taken in regards to 13 patients, including the three who died. A separate document reveals that Dr. Greg Page, a homeopathic doctor who was unauthorized to perform invasive surgeries, conducted procedures on at least nine patients, including one who died.

I am wondering how a homeopathic surgeon works. Does he use a scalpel without a blade?

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


You don’t have to be a Bible thumper to die in the name of closely-held belief. Step right up to the New Age of false promises:

WASHINGTON — Case 7682299: Aug. 1, 2010. A mother gives her toddler three homeopathic pills to relieve her teething pain. Within minutes, the baby stops breathing.

“My daughter had a seizure, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing about 30 minutes after I gave her three Hyland’s Teething Tablets,” the mother later told the Food and Drug Administration. “She had to receive mouth-to-mouth CPR to resume breathing and was brought to the hospital.”

There are eight cases of death involving babies who took these products. It is not been determined if there is any connection with the product and the fatal outcomes. In true fashion homeopathic products contain no active ingredients. What then, is the issue with the FDA requiring Hyland’s reformulate its products?

The report from STAT News points out that some doctors blame these products directly for children’s deaths.


Dying to Believe

Some more of the same


It’s Tuesday again. That means somebody had to die. Whose death at the hands of religion do we honor this week, Larry? Why, it’s none other than Robyn Twitchell, who would have been 22 years old this year, but for religion:

In 1988, Massachusetts prosecutors charged David and Ginger Twitchell with manslaughter in the 1986 death of their two-year-old son Robyn. Robyn Twitchell died of a peritonitis caused by a bowel obstruction that medical professionals declared would have been easily correctable.

The Twitchells’ defense contended that the couple were within their First Amendment rights to treat their son’s illness with prayer and that Massachusetts had recognized this right in an exemption to the statute outlawing child neglect.

The Twitchells were convicted of involuntary manslaughter. They were sentenced to ten years probation and required to bring their remaining children to regular visits to a pediatrician. The conviction was overturned in 1993 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on a legal technicality. Robert Gittens, speaking for the prosecutors’ office commented, “the law is now clear: parents cannot sacrifice the lives of their children in the name of religious freedom.”

Glory, hallelujah, and praise be unto Jesus. Two more criminal parents were spared from the punishment they deserved by the grace of almighty God and by the ineptitude of a Massachusetts court. It is unfortunate such mercy was not extended to little Robyn:

It began with his constant screaming and vomiting. On the second day, his parents called the Christian Science worldwide public relations manager to see about getting Christian Science treatment instead of medical treatment. On the fourth day, a church “nurse” was force-feeding Robyn at his bedside. On the fifth day, Robyn was throwing up a brown goo and screaming so loudly in pain that neighbors had to close their windows to avoid hearing him. Finally, at the end of the fifth day, at age two, Robyn died of peritonitis, an abdominal infection, and a twisted bowel. His autopsy pictures show bright red chin and lips where the acid in his vomit had eaten away his skin. He was so dehydrated that his skin stayed up when pinched. Fifteen inches of his intestines were black because the blood supply had been cut off. The parents called 911 only after rigor mortis had set in.

What an inspiring and religiously uplifting scene this must have been to observe, as a young child screamed out the remaining days of his life to keep alive a two-thousand-year-old fable.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same


I post one of these every Tuesday. Don’t stop me. I’m on a roll. This week we honor Carl and Raylene Worthington, of Clackamas County in Oregon:

OREGON CITY, Ore. (CBS/AP) Their prayers to save their dying daughter went unanswered. But an Oregon jury has shown mercy on an Oregon couple on trial for using prayer instead of medicine in their failed attempt to save their 15-month-old girl.

Carl Worthington was convicted of criminal mistreatment Thursday, a misdemeanor punishable by no more than a year in jail. His wife, Raylene Worthington, walked free.

The couple had faced manslaughter and criminal mistreatment charges, the former carrying up to 10 years in jail.

The Worthingtons are members of a Followers of Christ, a small church that shuns conventional medicine in favor of faith healing. The couple was accused of using prayer and faith healing rituals such as “laying on of hands” instead of medicine to heal their increasingly ill child.

What is so heart-warming about this case is the love and concern shown by the parents and other church members, who gathered around to watch Ava Worthington die. I salute the jury for showing mercy in a situation where Jesus chose to show none. Little Ava is with Jesus now, actually dead.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same


I have been posting one of these every Tuesday for several months, and I am not about to run out. Thanks to all the deeply and sincerely religious parents out there who selflessly sacrifice their children so that I will be able to entertain you for another week. Special thanks this week go to Steve amd Ruth Shippy of Alberta Province in Canada:

The parents, Steve Paul Shippy, 44, and Ruth Anne Shippy, 37, are members of the Followers of Christ Church, said Crown Prosecutor Ian Frazer of Wetaskiwin, 50 miles south of Edmonton.

The Followers of Christ is a fundamentalist sect whose members put all their faith in the healing power of God, professing to refuse medical care to the point of death. There are Followers churches in Oregon City; Caldwell, Idaho; and Fairview, Okla., to name a few cities.

The Shippys, who live in the rural community of Rimbey, face charges of criminal negligence resulting in death and failing to provide the necessities of life for the Dec. 28, 1998, death of their son, Callahan Douglas Shippy, 14. A medical examiner ruled that the boy died of complications from diabetes, and other medical experts say the boy languished in ill health for two to four weeks before he died, Frazer said. Frazer said the Shippys have loose ties to a Followers congregation in Idaho and once lived there for several years beginning in 1984 after Canadian child welfare officials began investigating an injury to one of their children that went untreated.

And special thanks go to young Callahan. Your personal sacrifice is much appreciated.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same


Allow me to take the opportunity to thank the parents of two-year-old Harrison Johnson for sacrificing their child in order that I should be able maintain my quota for this series of posts:

Harrison Johnson a 2 year old from Tampa, Florida was stung by wasps 432 times. The family, believers of The Fellowship didn’t seek medical treatment till 7 hours after the stings occurred. They did, however, have neighborhood children and church members pray for him during that time. When the EMT’s arrived he was no longer breathing and there was no pulse (“Victims”, 2000). In each of these cases the parents and the church believed that they were doing what was right in the eyes of God, and that they were giving the child proper care. They hold the tenant that God will heal them if they are meant to be healed and that it is left in God’s hands according to Wallace (2002).

The sacrifices some people make on my behalf are just indescribable.  So, I won’t attempt to describe them. Nothing says love and caring like “no pulse.”

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same


I post one of these each Tuesday. I have help. Significantly, help comes from the Christian Science community:

WHEN Thomas Jefferson described religious freedom as ”the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights,” he could not have imagined that the time would come when American citizens would be forced to pay ruinous damages for exercising it.

But that is the result of the Supreme Court’s decision last week not to review the case of McKown v. Lundman. That decision let stand a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling upholding an award of $1.5 million to the father of 11-year-old Ian Lundman, who died in 1989 after his mother, stepfather, and a Christian Science practitioner tried to use prayer to heal his diabetes.

The mother and stepfather are devout Christian Scientists, who, after Ian complained of stomach pains, began to pray for him, as their religion prescribes.

And that’s it for Ian Lundman, readers. Nothing says “wrapped in the arms of a loving Jesus” like six feet under.