'Avoidable' death

Experts: Seizure RX may have saved Jett

Der Speigel, Germany/January 5, 2009New York Post/January 4, 2009

The health problems of tragic teen Jett Travolta would not have been properly treated unless his celebrity Scientologist parents had rejected their religion's theories on medicine, outraged experts said yesterday.

An autism activist, who spoke on the condition that her name not be revealed, said anti-seizure medication could have controlled the attacks that cops said John Travolta's son was prone to suffering.

Police said Jett, 16, had a seizure Friday that led him to fall and hit his head on a bathtub in a Bahamas hotel.

It is not known if he was taking medication.

But the church to which his parents are devoted would have discouraged the use of any medication for the seizures that affect 25 percent of teen autistic suffers, said Scientology experts.

And his parents have repeatedly denied their son could have autism - an illness the church says doesn't exist.

"I believe this is something that was totally avoidable," said the autism activist, who asked not to be identified by name because she says she has a friendship with Travolta's brother, Joey.

"There were such clear indications that this kid had autism," she said. "It's bothered me for years.

"The irony is not lost that Joey has committed his life to working with autism and disabilities, and his brother, for religious reasons, would let this happen.

"Joey tries to be as supportive of his brother's choices as he can be, but this has really upset me."

According to the Church of Scientology, people with disabilities like autism are classified as "degraded" and capable of curing themselves by working harder on the church's teachings.

John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston repeatedly denied speculation that their son exhibited autistic symptoms.

Instead, they blamed their son's problems on a bout with Kawasaki syndrome as a toddler. The rare disease is characterized by high fever, skin rash and swelling of the lymph nodes. Left untreated the, illness can cause heart and circulation problems later in life.

Police believe a seizure led to Jett's fatal fall. The teen was found in a bathroom of the family's Bahamas vacation home Friday morning with a broken nose and smashed skull, cops said.

"The Travoltas as Scientologists - and very prominent Scientologists - would never consult a doctor to deal with the treatment of autism," said Rick Ross, a leading authority on the church.

"This child lived out his life without ever being evaluated or treated, in my opinion. The sad thing is, perhaps he could have been helped."

Jett's parents claimed to have treated his Kawasaki symptoms with a Scientology-prescribed course of "detoxification" - a regimen of diet and saunas that the church claims is purifying, but which Kawasaki specialist Dr. Adrianna Tremoulet has never heard of.

"I am not familiar with that therapy," she said yesterday. Standard treatment includes blood transfusions.

All medication - including anti-seizure drugs - are discouraged by the church, which believes drugs stockpile in the body over time and damage it, experts on the church said.

"The failure to give doctor-recommended drugs or medications to Jett might be considered to be a laudable Scientology ethics matter," said Michael Pattinson, a former senior-level church member.

Calls for comment from the church were not returned yesterday.

Initial reports from police that Jett's body lay undiscovered in the bathroom for nearly 10 hours were challenged yesterday by Travolta's attorney, Michael McDermott.

He said the teen was discovered within minutes by a nanny - whose screams brought Travolta sprinting from an upstairs bedroom.

The movie star tried desperately to resuscitate his son.

"John did everything he could, but it appears it was too late," said a detective.

The Travoltas remained on Grand Bahama Island yesterday, surrounded by more than 50 friends, family and church members who had jetted in during the week for a two-day New Year's party scheduled to end today.

The celebrations, including a catamaran cruise, were canceled as the grieving family instead planned Jett's funeral.

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