Tamar Stitt is dead.
The 10-year-old died in 2009, just months after she was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. And now it is up to the Perth Coroner’s Court to decide whether or not Tamar’s death could have been prevented.
Because there’s more to this story than just a tragic loss of life….
When Tamar was initially diagnosed with liver cancer, doctors told her parents Trevor and Arely Stitt that their daughter needed to undergo seven weeks’ worth of chemotherapy. That therapy, the doctors said, would give Tamar a 50-60% chance of survival.
But Trevor and Arely Stitt chose ignore doctors’ advice. This from the ABC’s coverage of the inquest:
Oncologist Angela Alessandri testified that after Tamar was diagnosed with liver cancer in Perth she had numerous conversations with her father stressing that his daughter needed chemotherapy as soon as possible.
However, she said Trevor Stitt eventually told her the family wanted to use “natural therapies” to treat Tamar. She said the last time she spoke to Mr Stitt he told her Tamar and her mother had left Australia, so there was no need to pursue any treatment plans.
That is when Perth’s Princess Margret Children’s Hospital asked the Supreme Court to intervene. After hearing all the evidence, the West Australian Supreme Court made a formal order that the family submit to doctors recommendations and have Tamar treated as recommended.
But instead of complying with the court, the Stitts chose to flee Australia, returning to Arely’s home country of El Salvador. They were able to do so with the help of Dr Alastair Nuttall, who gave the family a medical certificate indicating that their daughter was fit to fly overseas.
This from The West Australian, following Mr Nuttall’s appearance at the inquest:
The inquest was told the Stitts approached Dr Alastair Nuttall in the hours before they were due to go to court to ask him for a fitness to fly certificate for their daughter.
Dr Nuttall said after he was given the background to the case, he signed the certificate, which allowed Tamar to leave the country. “The family felt they had been corralled into a position of making a desperate decision,” Dr Nuttall said. “The parents clearly felt threatened by (the doctors).”
It was in El Salvador that Channel 7’s Rahni Sadler met with the Stitt family back in 2009. That interview was aired last night in an episode of Sunday Night.
At the time of the interview, Trevor and Arely Stitt were treating their daughter’s liver cancer with herbal tea and clay, using red clay gathered from the hills around Tamar’s uncles home in El Salavdor’s capital city, San Salvador.
Twice a day, Tamar’s torso was wrapped in clay, which Mrs Stitt believed was “basically the right medicine for any kind of illness.”
“What it does, it dries up anything that is causing the illness in your system – all the toxics,” she told channel 7. “We never agreed for Tamar to have chemo. Because we’ve seen so many cases and knowing what we know about natural remedies, they work slowly but it’s worth it,” she said.
Mr and Mrs Stitt explained that the teachings came from a book that had been in their family for many years. The book’s translated title was Health and Cure with Herbs and it was stories from this book that had led them to conclude alternative therapies were the best option for their daughter.
As to whether the family had proof of this treatment plan’s success? Trevor Stitt said they had put their faith in God and that Tamar’s fate would be decided by God’s will.