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Sickle cell 'quack' deported before


Date   :  07-02-2008

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Sickle cell 'quack' deported before

gulf daily news


A GERMAN chiropractor who Bahraini authorities are warning people to stay away from has already been thrown out of the country once, sources told the GDN yesterday.

They said he came here eight years ago, but was escorted out of the country by police after he was caught practising from hotel rooms.

Bahraini authorities were again warned a year ago that Ralf Jorgensen was back and offering sickle cell treatment based on no scientific evidence and that his activities should be stopped.

The warning was delivered by sickle cell specialist Dr Graham Serjeant, professor emeritus at the University of the West Indies, who claimed that Jorgensen draws blood from his patients, mixes it with something else and injects it back into their muscles.

Dr Serjeant, from the UK, was asked to file a report on Jorgensen by the Health Ministry's Licensing Directorate when he visited the country in September last year.

He has specialised in sickle cell diseases for the last 40 years and is a frequent visitor to Bahrain, which he last visited in July.

"I was asked for my opinion and I clearly suggested there was nothing known about the therapy this gentleman uses," Dr Serjeant told the GDN yesterday from Kingston, Jamaica, where he works.

The Health Ministry warned people on Monday about the dangers of undergoing Jorgensen's treatment at the Al Shafi Alternative Medicine Centre, in Janabiya, saying it could severely harm them.

"There have been no known clinical trials on his techniques and there is no known evidence on the effectiveness of the treatment," said Dr Serjeant, who has written two books and published over 400 scientific papers on sickle cell disease.

"That was one concern, but another concern was the way he treated his patients."

Dr Serjeant said that in his 40 years of experience, he had never heard of the treatment being used elsewhere.

"How can anyone draw blood intravenously, manipulate it outside the body and inject it back into the patient intramuscularly and claim that is doing the patient any good?" he asked.

"I would never do it. No medical man would ever attempt it. It's not medicine."

Dr Serjeant added he is convinced the treatment has no scientific basis.

"It is all psychological," he said. "The use of an invasive technique is never adopted."

It is understood Jorgensen charges BD2,000 for the treatment over a six-month period.

Sources said that patients would visit him almost on a daily basis.

Normally, hospitals treating patients with sickle cell disease do perform blood transfusions in addition to drug therapy.

However, they do not extract blood and then re-inject it into the body.

"Many of this gentleman's patients had come to me and spoken about the money they were charged," added Dr Serjeant.

"The poor patients would do anything to get their children some relief, even if psychological, for any amount of money. This is not the way."

He claimed that he could provide the same psychological relief to patients with the help of a banana.

"And the banana does not cost the BD2,000 that this gentleman is charging," he said.

Dr Serjeant added that in Bahrain, where sickle cell disease is the most common cause of hospital admittance, there has to be more awareness on how to treat the condition.

"It is high time the people be made aware of practices that have no medical basis," he said.


Prof Serjeant has developed a major comprehensive clinical and research facility for the management and investigation of over 5,000 patients with sickle cell disease, an inherited blood abnormality affecting between 300,000 to 500,000 births annually worldwide.

He has also supervised one of the world's largest sickle cell clinic overseeing the clinical care of over 5,000 patients and is experienced in all manifestations of sickle cell disease.

Since 2000, he has been assisting in the development of sickle cell services and research in Uganda, East Africa, where sickle cell disease affects 25,000 babies born annually.

Al Shafi Alternative Medicine Centre owner Mohammed Abdulrahman has previously claimed none of the 39 patients his clinic has treated have complained to the ministry.

He said he had a licence to operate an alternative medicine centre and that was what he was doing.

However, the Health Ministry has said Jorgensen is not a doctor, not allowed to give injections and the drugs he is using are not allowed in Bahrain.

It said he was only a bone specialist who had been summoned several times and told to stop operating, but had not listened.