Scientology row over Jett Travolta as post mortem reveals he died of seizure
A post-mortem examination determined last night that John Travolta’s chronically ill son died of a seizure, as controversy erupted over the Scientologist actor’s handling of the boy’s medical condition.
According to the family, Jett, 16, suffered a seizure and hit his head on a bathtub at their holiday home in the Bahamas, where he was found dead on Friday.
Glenn Campbell, the assistant director of a local funeral home, said that the body was in “great condition” with no sign of head trauma. He said that the death certificate, based on the post-mortem examination, gave the cause of death as “seizure”.
Jett’s remains were expected to be flown from Grand Bahama to the family home in Ocala, Florida, today. Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, issued a statement saying they were “heartbroken that our time with him was so brief. We will cherish the time we had with him for the rest of our lives.” The couple said that Jett suffered from Kawasaki disease, a condition that causes inflammation of small and medium-sized arteries. The disease affects the lymph nodes, skin and the mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and throat.
Experts said that the disease was rarely fatal and seldom affected children over the age of 8. The Travoltas have linked their son’s condition to house-cleaning agents. “With my son I was obsessive about cleaning — his space being clean, so we constantly had the carpets cleaned,” Travolta told CNN in 2001. “And I think, between him, the fumes and walking around, maybe picking up pieces or something, he got what is rarely a thing to deal with, but it’s Kawasaki syndrome.”
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Taking a break?
Preston said in 2003 that she had detoxed her son in a programme devised by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology. “I had a friend of mine, an environmental scientist and a toxicologist, go through our home and tell us exactly what was going on in the home. It wasn’t only the carpet. We had lots of cleansers under the sink.”
Critics of Scientology suggested yesterday that Jett may have been suffering from autism, a condition that the church does not recognise because it considers mental illness to be psychosomatic and argues that it should be treated through spiritual healing.
Joey Travolta, the star’s film-maker younger brother and an autism activist, reportedly clashed with his brother about what was wrong with Jett. Joey Travolta worked on a documentary called Normal People Scare Me and helped to found Actors with Autism.
Paul Bloch, Travolta’s spokesman, did not respond to a request for a comment. His lawyers rejected suggestions that the star, who tried to revive his son with CPR, did not care properly for Jett. Michael McDermott and Michael Ossie, who represent the star, told the website TMZ.com that Jett suffered frequent seizures and that “each was like a death”, with the boy losing consciousness and convulsing.
The issue of whether or not the Travolta’s adherence to Scientology teachings may have contributed to Jett Travolta’s condition stem from the fact that Scientology’s medical claims amount to quackery.
Death Of John Travolta’s Son Raises Medical Questions
Medical specialists who did not treat the boy told The Associated Press on Tuesday that while Kawasaki syndrome is poorly understood, it’s extremely unlikely the disease had anything to do with the teen’s death.
Gossip magazines and blogs long have suggested the boy also had autism — a claim John Travolta denied. Autism is frequently accompanied by seizures that experts believe may stem from the same brain abnormalities that cause the developmental disorder.
Michael Ossi, an attorney for the Travoltas, and Samantha Mast, a Travolta publicist, told the AP by e-mail that they would not discuss details of the boy’s illness.
The Travoltas have said little about their son’s condition and his medical treatment over the years. The couple are Scientologists, followers of the controversial religion created by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.
The church is not commenting specifically on the Travolta case. But church policy is for members to seek a doctor for medical treatment of a physical condition, including taking any drugs prescribed.
“The bottom line is that Scientologists seek conventional medical treatment for medical conditions,” said Tommy Davis, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles.
Kawasaki syndrome, the disease the family has said sickened Jett when he was a toddler, can cause inflammation in blood vessels and arteries.
Kelly Preston blamed household cleaners and fertilizers for the disease and said a detoxification program based on Scientology teachings helped improve his health, according to People magazine.
Meissner said there is scientific evidence linking professional-strength carpet cleaners with the disease.
Davis, the Scientology spokesman, acknowledged the detoxification program, but said its benefits are spiritual.
“Scientology is a religion,” he said. “We deal with the spirit, and mental and spiritual factors that affect someone’s happiness and well-being.”
Coroner Says Jett Travolta Autopsy Results May Never Be Released
The autopsy for John Travolta’s son, Jett, was completed in the Bahamas on Monday.
And while a funeral home official says Jett Travolta’s death certificate listed the cause of death as “seizure,” Dr. Cyril Wecht, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Anna Nicole Smith’s son, Daniel, in 2007, says the official autopsy report may take weeks to be released – if ever.
“If there is no evidence of criminality, and if police have no questions or suspicions, and there are no drugs are involved, the family has the right to keep the autopsy private,” Wecht says.
Travolta’s son cremated, ashes flown to Florida
NASSAU (Reuters) – The body of actor John Travolta’s 16-year-old son, Jett, was cremated in the Bahamas after his sudden death during the New Year’s holiday and his parents flew to Florida with his ashes, a Bahamian lawmaker said on Tuesday.
The boy suffered a seizure at his family’s holiday home in the Old Bahama Bay resort on Grand Bahama island last Friday. His death certificate listed the cause of death as “seizure disorder,” said an official at the Restview Memorial funeral home, where the body was cremated.
John Travolta and his actress wife, Kelly Preston, flew out of the Bahamas on Monday night with the ashes, which were turned over to a funeral home in Ocala, Florida, said Obie Wilchcombe, a member of parliament for western Grand Bahama.
Pathologists performed an autopsy on Monday. Bahamian Police Commissioner Reginald Ferguson said the results would not be released because there was “nothing criminal” about the boy’s death.
Why the web is abuzz over Jett Travolta’s death
A Hollywood celebrity, a teenage death in a bathroom and the Church of Scientology is a toxic brew for global gossipmongers and, sure enough, the death of John Travolta’s 16-year-old son, Jett, has triggered an orgy of internet chatter. Some of the speculation is being driven in an organised way by critics of the Church of Scientology (“Co$” in internet parlance).
For members of Anonymous, an online group of anti-Scientology activists, Jett’s death is an opportunity to repeat old allegations against Travolta and Scientology: that Jett suffered a form of autism but Travolta and Preston, who are Scientologists, were in denial about it because it is claimed that Scientology argues that autism is psychosomatic and must not be managed with mainstream medication or psychiatry.
It is alleged online that Travolta and Scientology may have somehow prevented the treatment of Jett’s condition and put him through “detox programmes” created by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard. But in interviews Preston has described the “detox” only as being “90% organic” apart from “a little bit of junk food”.
Travolta’s lawyers, Michael Ossi and Michael McDermott, told the celebrity website TMZ.com that Jett took an anti-seizure drug called Depakote and it was only stopped on medical advice. The British branch of Scientology did not respond to questions about its position on autism.
“Scientologists use medical drugs when physically ill and also rely on the advice and treatment of medical doctors,” said a spokesman.
The online speculation comes at a convenient moment for the anti-Scientology campaign, with worldwide protests planned this Saturday, but there may be a backlash if it is seen to be exploiting a private tragedy.