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John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s Teen Son Dies

My heart goes out today to actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston, whose 16-year-old son Jett died yesterday while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas. The teenager apparently had a seizure while in the shower or bath at their … Read More

By / January 3, 2009

My heart goes out today to actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston, whose 16-year-old son Jett died yesterday while the family was vacationing in the Bahamas. The teenager apparently had a seizure while in the shower or bath at their hotel and hit his head. "At this point, we know that John and Kelly Travolta’s only son, Jett Travolta, had a seizure. All attempts were made to revive him, but were unsuccessful and he died," said the family’s attorney, Michael Ossi. The Travoltas have another child, daughter Ella, who is 8.

While Jett himself was mostly out of the public eye, he was the subject of many health-related questions. Many believed that Jett was autistic, something that his parents denied. Both Travolta and Preston are well-known members of the Church of Scientology, which does not acknowledge autism’s existence. Instead, Preston went on The Montel Williams Show and explained that her son suffered from the rare Kawasaki Disease, which primarily affects young children. Kawasaki is an inflammatory disease that affects – and can weaken – the heart and the muscles around it.

Preston went on to explain that Jett became ill because of chemicals and other contaminants that were used in carpet cleaner at their home. He went through several Scientology processes, all of which are based on church founder L. Ron Hubbard’s writings. While I don’t know exactly what processes Jett went through, Scientology ‘detox’ or ‘purification’ procedures (designed to rid the body of physical or mental illness) normally de-emphasize the use of Western medicine and instead rely on saunas, vitamin regimens, and calisthenic exercises. An ex-Scientologist and prominent critic of the Church, Tory "Magoo" Christman, spoke out earlier this year about her own experiences suffering from seizures. While a Church member, she was forbidden to take the psychotropic drugs that a doctor recommended for her. Once she left, she began taking the medicine and has not had a seizure since.

At this time, the only proper thing to do is mourn and send our condolences to Jett’s family. But, once he is laid to rest and people begin to move on with their lives, I feel it is almost inevitable that the questions that surrounded Jett in his life will resurface again. And this time, there will be much more pressure on his family to provide answers. Most likely, this means that the always-controversial Church of Scientology will be thrust into the foreground. Members of Anonymous, the nebulous anti-Scientology group that leads protests outside of Church buildings, have already called Travolta and Preston’s treatment of their son’s illness into question. I doubt that voices like theirs will die away in the weeks to come. Until then, though, two people now have to bury their oldest child, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, no matter how I felt about their religion.

 

X-posted at Offsprung

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