9:50am Friday 7th June 2013
By Kathryn Snowdon
The mother of Luna Petagine has cast doubt on the expensive treatment the family sought in America during the Oxhey girl’s four-year battle with cancer.
BBC Panorama this week aired an investigation into Doctor Stanislaw Burzynski’s cancer clinic in Texas, where hundreds of children - normally terminally ill - go and seek treatment.
Luna, who was five-years-old when she died last year, was a patient at The Burzynski Clinic after her parents were told the physician could cure their daughter, despite Great Ormond Street Hospital doctors saying little more could be done for her.
Luna’s mother, Lucy Petagine, of Raglan Gardens, said there was no doubt in her mind she was going to send her daughter to Dr Burzynski.
Mrs Petagine said: "Of course I’m going to go with him. If anyone had knocked on my door and said ‘here if you try this it will work’ then yeah I would have tried it because I was in desperation.
"The NHS are telling me my daughter’s going to die and this man is telling me that he thinks he can cure her."
Mrs Petagine added: "It was all about hope. He said he hoped to cure my daughter. The plan was to try and cure Luna."
In order to finance the treatment, which the family believed could be life-saving, more than £100,000 was raised and in September 2011 they travelled to America.
However, Mrs Petagine said the treatment at The Burzynski Clinic was actually killing her daughter.
She added: "The treatment was - what was happening - was actually killing Luna because it put this pressure on her brain stem."
Dr Burzynski’s treatment is called antineoplaston therapy, which derives from substances that can be found in the human body, such as blood and urine. In the clinic’s research facility, 300 litres of antineoplaston are produced a day.
In response to Panorama’s questioning and claims that he was merely selling hope to vulnerable families, Dr Burzynski said: "Can you imagine that the US government... they would allow me to be here if I just sell hope?"
The treatment has not been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nonetheless, Dr Burzynski said: "The drugs will be approved very soon."
A month into Luna’s therapy, an MRI revealed the tumour had grown, pressing on Luna’s brain stem and causing her breathing problems and facial palsy.
Mrs Petagine said: "They said the tumour’s grown and we were like ‘how could it have grown this quickly, this doesn’t make sense’."
Luna had to be admitted to intensive care in Texas Children’s Hospital.
Mrs Petagine said: "Texas Children’s hate The Burzynski Clinic. They said they have to clean up all his mess. The second you walk in the door they look at your child and they did actually say to us ‘are you a Burzynski family?’"
Doctor Stanislaw Burzynski
Luna died in August last year. Her mother said: "At the end of the day, as a parent with a child who’s dying and you’re told this child is going to die, you will try anything."
Mrs Petagine added: "You can’t put a price on hope."
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