Monday 26 September 2016

'No way' Conor's cancer could have been cured


Published 11/12/2012 | 14:46

MAIN PICTURE: Conor O'Sullivan from Gorey, who died from cancer in 2002 at the age of just 15. INSET: Dr Paschal Carmody
MAIN PICTURE: Conor O'Sullivan from Gorey, who died from cancer in 2002 at the age of just 15. INSET: Dr Paschal Carmody

THE TRIAL of a County Clare doctor accused of defrauding a Gorey family of a 15-year-old cancer sufferer, continued at Ennis Circuit Court last week.

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It's alleged that Dr. Paschal Carmody told Conor O'Sullivan from he could cure him of cancer, or at worst keep him alive, with Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).

As the trial entered its second week, cancer expert Colin Hopper that said that the doctor, Dr Bill Porter, who administered the Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) to Conor at Dr Carmody's East Clinic in Killaloe came from the US 'and was a barred doctor, who was an eye specialist'.

Conor O'Sullivan underwent PDT in 2002 after consulting with Dr Carmody, and the jury has heard from Conor's parents, Christina and Derek, that Dr Carmody told Conor that he would cure him of cancer or at worst keep him alive.

Conor, who suffered from a rare form of bone cancer, died in November 2002.

Prior to meeting with Dr Carmody, Christina and Derek learned that the cancer had spread to Conor's thigh, collar and skull bones.

Mr Hopper, who has studied PDT for the past 20 years, said there is no way that the PDT at Dr Carmody's clinic could have treated deep seated tumours.

Mr Hopper said that the problem he had with the PDT administered at Dr Carmody's clinic 'is that there is no theoretical or practical evidence that it has actually done anything'.

Another cancer expert who testified at the trial last week, Prof Frank Sullivan from Galway University Hospital, said on Conor O'Sullivan's case: 'I would never consider a deep seated bone tumour like this to be appropriate for PDT'.

Prof Sullivan said that PDT is used to treat superficial cancers, like skin cancer or esophageal cancer.

The lead clinician at the Department of Radiation Oncology in Galway University Hospital said: 'At best you may get 5 mm to 10 mm of penetration with PDT. It is impossible to get a deeper penetration of that light that is effective with the drugs that are commonly used for PDT.'

Mr Hopper was asked by the health authorities to carry out a study of the PDT treatment at Dr Carmody's East Clinic in 2002-03.

He told the jury that Dr Carmody struck him as 'a caring physician who was interested in doing good for his patients'.

Mr Hopper also told the court that Dr Carmody ' believed overall he was doing patients good' and in the efficacy of the cancer treatments provided at his clinic in Killaloe.

The expert witness said: 'I got the impression from the patients that they liked him.' Mr Hopper was the final prosecution witness in the trial.

A report by Mr Hopper found that it was 'miraculous' that a cancer patient of Dr Carmody's was alive in 2003.

Mr Hopper compiled a report on three of Dr Carmody's cancer patients as part of a wider study of cancer treatment at the East Clinic and in relation to one of them, a Mr Hadden, he wrote: ' That he is still alive so long after his diagnosis is miraculous and suggests that at least some of these alternative treatments have had a beneficial effect.'

In court, Mr Hopper said that his conclusion that some of the treatments had a beneficial effect is 'undeniable'. He told the court: 'The timescale is quite extraordinary.'

Mr Hadden was a patient of Dr Carmody's at the East Clinic and underwent a range of therapies prescribed by Dr Carmody including Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) treatment and immunology.

Mr Hopper agreed with counsel for Dr Carmody, Tom Creed SC, that Mr Hadden survived for another five years was every more remarkable.

Mr Hopper said: ' Many of Dr Carmody's patients were continuing to receive conventional cancer care treatment. I didn't get the impression that he was telling his patients "stop everything else and just do this".'

Mr Hopper confirmed that Dr Carmody had entered discussions with then UL academic and current Shannon Development CEO, Dr Vincent Cunnane on establishing formal links with the University on the cancer work he was doing at the East Clinic.

In the case, Dr Carmody (65) of Ballycuggeran, Killaloe, denies defrauding family relatives of two terminally ill cancer patients of €16,554 at the East Clinic in Killaloe in 200102 concerning the PDT treatment given to the two.

Seven of the nine charges relate to the Gorey teenager, who died in November 2002. The remaining two relate to John Sheridan (58) of Kells, Co Kilkenny, who died in November of the same year.

The prosecution ended its case on Thursday with Friday taken up by legal argument in the absence of the jury. The trial continues today, Tuesday.

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