Ostensibly fearing liver damage, John Travolta removed his teenaged son from the anti-seizure medication Depakote. Jett Travolta later succumbed to convulsions and died. Why wasn't he put on other medication?
For one thing, the underlying cause of the seizures was unclear.
John Travolta said his son had Kawasaki disease. But at least one doctor says the disease does not cause seizures.
One disease that is associated with elevated risk of seizures is autism. In 2006, celebrity writer Mark Ebner cited five anonymous sources who said Jett had that disease, not Kawasaki disease ("a media rep from the Autism Society of America (ASA), an executive from Cure Autism Now, a major Hollywood producer and parent of an autistic child, and a Hollywood actor-parent").
This weekend the Mirror cited an anonymous "close friend" of John Travolta's brother Joey. The source said Joey, who made a documentary about autism, strongly believed John's son Jett had the condition.
But movie star John, a high-ranking member of the Church of Scientology, would not likely have embraced an autism diagnosis; by all accounts, the church does not recognize the disorder as requiring medical treatment (as with any other illnesses the cult deems "psychosomatic").
Even if the diagnosis was sorted out, there's the issue of medication. We know Jett was on Depakote for several years, then removed. Travolta's lawyers said the decision was made by Travolta and Jett's Scientologist mother Kelly Preston "after consulting neurosurgeons."
But one most also consider than the "church" in which Travolta and Preston have reached the exalted rank of "Clear" made a practice of removing patients from anti-seizure medication specifically. In the clip up top (odd visuals are from the YouTube source), Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard discusses the process:
Sometimes they really seize and sometimes its just slight... the doctors keep them on something to prevent this. Its just a tranquilizer and they keep them on that one year, year in and year out. And then you come along as an auditor and you try to audit the pc and you tell the pc that hell have to go off that drug. And then all of a sudden... the doctor will call up plaintively asking you to please put her back on the drug because she needs this... Now I've been using a lot of medical words here or chemical words really. Just dont pay any attention to them because they're mostly gobbledygook.
It would be heartening to believe that Jett's parents listened to credible doctors rather than this sort of Scientology propaganda. One hopes so, if only to make their own grieving at least a bit less difficult. But persistent reports they dodged an accurate autism diagnosis for their own son raise, at the very least, some doubts.