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A Death in the Family PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brandon K. Thorp   

Here is a report on a crime with four victims and no perpetrator. In June, Australian couple Thomas and Manju Sam were convicted of manslaughter. Their first child, Gloria, died of eczema-related complications in 2002. She was nine months old, and had been battling illness over half her life. To deal with her eczema, she was treated almost exclusively with homeopathic remedies.

Today, sentencing recommendations were submitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. According to the story, Queen's Council for the Crown, Mark Tedeschi, said of Thomas: "His fixed ideas [on homeopathy], his arrogance and pride were the ultimate cause of him failing to get Gloria proper medical treatment."

Queen's Council for the Defense, James Glissan, pointed out that the Sams have learned their lesson. When their second child developed eczema, he was treated with "conventional" medicine.

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written by Sc00ter, August 13, 2009
Isn't this the same couple that when their daughter was getting homeopathic treatments in India, the mom was going to a conventional hospital? Or am I getting my homeopathic baby deaths mixed up?
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written by Alan3354, August 13, 2009
I vote for euthanasia for the parents.
As a minimum, the 2nd choice is sterilization.
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One headline you'll never see:
written by cdion321, August 13, 2009
"Homeopathy patient dies of dehydration" smilies/grin.gif
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terrible
written by jer, August 13, 2009
As the parent of a nine month old, I find this absolutely horrifying. To see your child suffer like that is bad enough; to sit there and cause it because you're caught up in some trendy little non-cure is unthinkable.

There's no end to how people apply this kind of garbage to babies: Before our son was born, the midwives said they sometimes brought in chiropractors to "adjust" newborns who were fussy. Needless to say, that wasn't going to happen with ours.
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Wait, what?
written by JWideman, August 13, 2009
How do you die from eczema?!? It's just patches of dry, itchy skin.
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written by falln_angel, August 13, 2009
Queen's Council for the Defense, James Glissan, pointed out that the Sams have learned their lesson. When their second child developed eczema, he was treated with "conventional" medicine.


Actually, from what I can tell, that's not quite the case. From another SMH article:

At Thomas Sam's sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court today, Dr Robyn Cosford said she had treated their son, now aged three, for his eczema.

Dr Cosford, who also is a trained homeopath, said she first saw the baby boy when he was a few months old.

But his condition had "completely resolved" and she has not seen him for about eight to 12 months, since treating him with homeopathy and nutritional supplements.


And from The Daily Telegraph (emphasis mine):

Thomas Sam's Supreme Court sentencing hearing yesterday heard that the couple's three-year-old son also suffered from eczema as a baby and was treated by a doctor who combined homeopathy and nutritional supplements. The court heard he is currently being treated for another condition by conventional medicine.


So it seems that they may not have learned that lesson very well after all...


As much as I applaud the court for holding these parents responsible for the welfare of their child, I can't help but see the government as also responsible for her death. I found an 85-page Regulation of Homoeopathic and Anthroposophic Medicines document produced by the Australia Government. And while the entry on homeopathy at www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au says:

Homeopathy claims to treat the symptoms of a wide range of illnesses including allergies, asthma, eczema, hayfever, headaches, stress and respiratory infections.


The site's precautions about this pseudo-science include no warning that it is, or even could be, completely ineffective, instead advise people to "make sure [they] seek the services of a registered homeopath" and even includes the following statement:

Sometimes symptoms may temporarily get worse before they get better. This ‘aggravation’ of symptoms can be part of the homeopathic treatment. However, you should tell your homeopath if you have these reactions. Your homeopath may refer you to a doctor or other healthcare practitioner if necessary.


An increase of symptoms may be part of the treatment? You should ask your homeopath to refer you to a 'conventional' doctor?!? This is coming from a government website, remember, not a homeopathic organization. I can't be the only one who finds this terrifying.

I personally feel that, unless our governments wise up and stop embracing "alternative medicine", we're going to see an increase in cases like that of poor little Gloria. And to expect the general public to recognize the fallacy of things like homeopathy, indeed to hold them criminally liable when they fail to do so even while the government continues to endorse it, reeks of hypocrisy.
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To JWideman
written by falln_angel, August 13, 2009
Piecing together info from various articles, the baby was severely malnourished due to her body constantly fighting off infection. (Cracks in the skin caused by eczema allow for easy entry of bacteria.) In the end, she developed septicemia in her eye which she was unable to recover from.
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written by Fritriac, August 13, 2009
I'd to suffer from eczema in the first years of my life. No fun, as far as I can remember. As a kid you don't have the self control not to scratch those itchy parts. I had skin infections all over my body and now I'm happy that my parents were intelligent enough to take me to real medics.

Some of their theories about the causes were shitty wrong (It took years to recover from some cortisone therapies - cortisone makes the skin thin and fragile) but at least my problems are gone. If anyone thinks that a "drug" without any ingredients besides water, alcohol or lactose will work - that's just wrong. (Especially on such a young kid where placebos don't work - because you'll need to be aware of the positive result of pills or salves or whatever - young kids don't work this way)

Homeopathy: Only for believers
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You need training for this?
written by Culmidon, August 13, 2009
JWideman quotes from an SMH article: "Dr Cosford, who also is a trained homeopath..." I didn't know one needed to be trained to administer water.
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written by AndyD, August 14, 2009
I too feel the government has a hand in this death. Australia is a nanny state. We are forced to wear seatbelts in cars and helmets on bicycles. We are subject to never-ending anti-smoking, anti-drugs and anti-alcohol ads and are warned regularly that violence against women is a no-no. We have billboards reminding us of the dangers of drink-driving and speeding and there are some near me that even suggest driving with headlights on.

Despite this, we have "colleges" teaching homeopathy and the "graduates" can go out into the community, now with important-looking letters behind their names, and set up shop selling homeopathy to the general public.

Surely if there was a problem with homeopathy our nanny-state governments would be warning us about it on TV and radio and in the press. But they aren't. Who can blame anyone for assuming it must be real medicine?
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written by Trez, August 14, 2009
Heres the original reported story with all the details

http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/baby-death-call-for-homeopath-rules/2007/11/19/1195321684868.html
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written by The_Libertarian_Otaku, August 14, 2009
Homeopathy used to treat eczema? Why? Are the parents THAT afraid of real medicine actually WORKING?

Why do people turn to homeopathy and other woo-woo anyway?
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Put it in perspective
written by pxatkins, August 14, 2009
I too feel the government has a hand in this death. Australia is a nanny state. We are forced to wear seatbelts in cars and helmets on bicycles. We are subject to never-ending anti-smoking, anti-drugs and anti-alcohol ads and are warned regularly that violence against women is a no-no. We have billboards reminding us of the dangers of drink-driving and speeding and there are some near me that even suggest driving with headlights on.

with homeopathy our nanny-state governments would be warning us about it on TV and radio and in the press.


Please ... your government has a duty to produce public safety notices when the consequences of ignoring them costs lives. Laughable though it is, homeopathy isn't in the same league as road accidents, smoking, etc. for killing people. In my experience you only hear complaints about 'nanny states' where you have infantile citizens.
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I am an infantile citizen...
written by Human Person Jr, August 14, 2009
according to he-who-arbitrates-these-matters.
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written by AndyD, August 15, 2009
@ pxatkins, yes, those examples do involve life-threatening safety issues. But our governments also ban fuel-saving devices that don't save fuel. They also prosecute people who trick the elderly (mainly) into handing over cash for home repairs that they never carry out. The only risk here is to the wallet - but they get banned and prosecuted to protect the gullible.

Meanwhile, the government will subsidise people, via Austudy, to get a diploma in homeopathy.
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@AndyD
written by EmJay, August 19, 2009
The government mandates seatbelts because wearing them saves lives. Remember that it wasn't so long ago when people genuinely believed it was safer not to wear a seatbelt so that you'd be thrown clear in a crash. Now we know better but it has taken time and decades of good research. (As an aside: Many people, especially in country areas (I have met some of them), still insist it's their right not to wear a seatbelt. Fine - but I for one don't want to pay the extra medical bills they incur.)

Healthcare and the choices we make about our bodies are much touchier issues than seatbelts, to continue with that example, and seatbelt wearing was touchy enough when introduced. Governments are reluctant to tell people they can't have certain things until it is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be dangerous every single time. That can't be proved with homeopathy because largely, it's harmless. There aren't too many medical treatments that have been outright banned either because almost every treatment, no matter how bizarre or potentially life threatening, may also have the potential to save someone. Take the full mastectomy procedure - it is out of fashion nowadays because it has been found that it is generally no more effective than lumpectomies combined with radiotherapy, but it is still used if needed.

If someone chooses homeopathy and fails to get better, they may well turn up in hospital anyway. The tragedy of this case was that the victim couldn't speak for herself and had no choice in her treatment.
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