This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
‘It’s hard to fight this war,” said Rabbi Yaakov Cohen of Houston, Texas, about the struggle to save the life of his six-year-old son Refael Elisha, who has brain and spine cancer. Grasping at any and every option to help their son, Cohen and his wife Devorah have launched a petition to convince the US Food and Drug Administration to grant compassionate use exemption to Refael Elisha for antineoplaston therapy.
According to the American Cancer Society, antineoplaston therapy is a complementary, or alternative, cancer treatment that involves using a group of synthetic chemicals called antineoplastons meant to protect the body from disease. Antineoplastons are made up mostly of peptides and amino acids originally taken from human blood and urine. They were discovered more than 40 years ago, but published clinical trial results are available only for a relatively small number of patients, and there is no convincing evidence that they work. The FDA pulled its approval for this treatment in 2012 pending further clinical trials.
The Cohens are turning to this alternative treatment because Refael Elisha has undergone every possible treatment conventional medicine has to offer, and now his doctors at Texas Children’s Hospitalare saying there is nothing more they can do for him.
In addition to petitioning the FDA, the family has pursued alternative and experimental treatments from Israel. “It’s been under the table, Jews helping Jews,” Cohen explained.
However, it has been harder to access antineoplaston therapy, which is offered by the Burzysnki Clinic in Houston.
“Here we are 10 minutes away from the clinic, where it makes the product in its own lab, and we can’t access the therapy,” Cohen said in frustration.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.