Monday, July 17, 2006

Cancer 'doctor': six new deaths

A VICTORIAN cancer sufferer was one of six people who died in Australia last year after receiving what police suspect was a bogus intravenous cancer treatment promoted by Hellfried Sartori, a discredited Austrian doctor who was arrested in Thailand this week.
Police say four of the Australian cancer sufferers who died in May and June last year had attended a Mosman Park clinic in Perth for cesium chloride treatments.
Two other cancer sufferers are reported to have had the same treatment in Australia, but it is not known in which state.

The dead included a US citizen visiting Australia for the treatment, two Perth residents, the Victorian, and one each from NSW and South Australia.
Thai police arrested Sartori, 67, in Chiang Mai on Sunday and have charged him with fraud and practising without a medical licence. They claim several people who received treatment from Sartori — for which they were charged $50,000 — later died in Chiang Mai hospitals.

Northern Territory police are investigating the death of Kathleen Preston who died two years ago in Chiang Mai soon after receiving cesium chloride injections from Sartori. Her husband, Keith, said yesterday that there was nothing wrong with his wife undergoing a "natural" treatment that may have led to her death. He and Kathleen, 58, went overseas after Australian doctors said they could do nothing about her ovarian cancer, he said. "They tell you to go home and die. They weren't doing anything," Mr Preston said.
Speaking from a cell at a police station in Chiang Mai, Sartori yesterday told AAP that he had not committed any crime. "All I did was to try to help people after they approached me," he said. "And I gave free advice to many people, including some in Australia, to try to assist them back to a healthy life."
"That poor woman (Kathleen Preston) bled to death because of the incompetence of the staff at that hospital," Sartori said.
He insisted he was still a registered physician in some parts of the world, though not in Thailand where he said he acted only as a "technician" while nurses injected patients with chemicals that police have said were dangerous.
Three weeks ago the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors in Britain, issued interim orders banning Sartori until December 2007.
In the United States, Sartori's medical licence has been suspended by more than a dozen states. He was jailed in New York in 1992 and Washington DC in 1998 over his promotion of cesium chloride injections as a cancer therapy.
Sergeant Terry Rakich of Perth's major crime squad said yesterday that Sartori was refused entry to Australia last year. He said police had been waiting more than a year to receive the results of pathology and toxicology tests that might confirm why six Australian cancer patients died in Australia in May and June 2005. They hoped to present a brief to the coroner in the next few months.
The head doctor at the Perth clinic, breast cancer specialist Alexandra Boyd, yesterday issued a statement denying administering any cancer treatment to Sartori's patients. "The only association Dr Boyd had with these Perth-based patients was strictly limited to the ordering and reviewing of blood tests for some of these patients," Dr Boyd said in a statement.
"At that time, Dr Boyd was not aware that Mr Sartori was not a medical practitioner, if this is in fact the case. Certainly, Dr Boyd has no knowledge whatsoever of any convictions or charges, past or present, against Mr Sartori."

With AAP

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