A Calgary father will visit the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta in Edmonton today to demand an investigation into why doctors treated his cancer-riddled daughter with arsenic five years ago.
Medical experts call Lawrence Hughes’s claims that his daughter died of arsenic poisoning unfounded, and say the toxic metalloid is in fact a “miracle drug for the treatment of specific types of cancer.”
Hughes’s 16-year-old daughter Bethany died Sept. 5, 2002, after being treated for leukemia and skin cancer at the Cross Cancer Institute.
As devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bethany and her mother had refused blood transfusions for her.
Their disagreement over her treatment methods saw Hughes leave the faith and his family subsequently disowned him.
– Four Dangers of the Jehovah’s Witness Organization
He has since filed a lawsuit against the religious sect and now claims Edmonton doctors may have inadvertently poisoned Bethany to death.
Her patient records – delivered to Sun Media and the Edmonton Police Service – show that she was given arsenic almost daily for two months before she died.
“A blood transfusion could have saved her. I want to know why they gave her poison and who told them they could do so,” Hughes said.
College registrar Trevor Theman said Hughes’s demonstration is a bizarre way of requesting an investigation into physician conduct.
“Complaint investigations are not public information. Resolutions of complaints are only made public if a disciplinary hearing finds a physician guilty and council orders facts made public,” Theman said.
Theman did not comment on the arsenic treatment. The doctor who prescribed it for Bethany was unavailable for comment.
Dr. James Berenson, a top U.S. arsenic researcher and director for the Institute for Myeloma and Bone Cancer Research in West Hollywood, says he’s never heard of a case where a patient treated with arsenic was poisoned.
“The dosages we treat cancer patients with are many times lower than any dosage that could harm someone,” he said.
“In fact arsenic has become a miracle drug for treating acute myelogenous leukemia, (the kind Bethany Hughes had),” he said.
He said the drug boosts the efficiency of other anti-cancer agents and has even cured patients of myelogenous leukemia.
EPS spokesman Jeff Wuite said police have received Hughes’s “information package” of Bethany’s patient records but are “not investigating the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta in any way.”