The mother of a 15-year-old boy who died from terminal cancer in 2002 told a trial at Ennis Circuit court this afternoon that a former Co Clare GP promised her son he could cure his cancer with a treatment known as photodynamic therapy.
Christine O’Sullivan, from Gorey, Co Wexford, was giving evidence at the trial of Paschal Carmody, 65, of Ballycuggeran, Killaloe.
Mr Carmody denies nine charges that he obtained over €16,000 by deception from the families of two terminally ill patients.
He did this, it is alleged, by falsely claiming he could cure their cancer with the treatment known as PDT.
Christine O’Sullivan told the jury of six men and six women that her teenage son Conor had undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a tumour on his spine, and that in the summer of 2002 they were told he had just six months to live.
She visited the East Clinic in Killaloe, run by the former Dr Carmody, for the first time on 9 July 2002, and that the doctor met her son Conor.
He told them that PDT was a very successful treatment and was suitable for Conor’s type of cancer.
She said Dr Carmody put his hand on the teenager and said to him “I'll cure your cancer, or at worst I'll keep you alive”.
Mrs O Sullivan said they were on “cloud nine” that day because Dr Carmody was going to be able to treat Conor.
She said she handed over two cheques to the clinic that day for over €8,000; one for €7,500 paid to the Photodynamic Treatment Centre, and the second cheque for over €500 to Dr Carmody himself.
She told the trial the treatment involved Conor being put on a drip for a number of hours, and then going to a treatment room where he was stripped to his underpants and a number of lights were shone on his body for a further two to three hours.
She said she understood the liquid he took was to attach to his cancer cells, and the light would subsequently kill the cancer cells. She said on that first treatment Conor developed huge hives on his body.
Her son also received a second treatment at the East Clinic on 29 July 2002 and they followed up with medication and infra red lamp treatment at home. They had to stop the treatment at home in September 2002 after Conor developed huge lumps on his forehead and collarbone.
She said Conor died aged 15 on 13 November 2002.
The trial before Judge Ray Fullam is likely to take three weeks.