Translated from French: An investigation by Vanessa Boy-Landry for Paris-Match
Ten days ago, four parents with children affected by cancer and treated in the service of Dr. Delépine at
Hospital Raymond Poincaré in Garches, a residential suburb West of Paris. What pushed these parents to adopt such desperate measure? The treatment they chose for their children is challenged by the AP-HP (Public Assistance-Paris Hospital), which plans to transfer the unit in July. For the 200 families deeply involved in this issue, the closure of this unique service in France signals the end of the therapeutic freedom of choice in the treatment of pediatric cancers.
“When you have a child with cancer, the last thing you need is to go through such addtional hurdles. We are pacifists, but this is really out of control, totally unreal!” says Lisbeth, one of four strikers gathering in the chapel of the Raymond Poincaré Hospital. The three others are: a 70-year old grandma whose granddaughter is in treatment, and a couple whose son is in total remission. Lisbeth explains: “My son is out of danger, and in remission for four years, and we want children with cancer to benefit from these treatments.
Since they learned from the press in late April that the activity of the oncology unit at Garches would be transferred in August, to the Department of Pediatrics of Professor Chevallier in Boulogne (Hopital Ambroise Paré), concern arose among parents. If the service is dismantled, they have reasons to believe it will be the end of effective treatments for their children.
Attorney Ludot, representing the parents’ association Ametist, explains, “These children are going to end up in the hands of oncologists who hate Dr. Delépine and consider that she does not comply with the recommendations by not applying standard protocols and refusing to expose children to first line clinical trials. Therefore, they’ll stop treatments already in process.”
The Association represented by its counsel is suing the Minister of Health, and a hearing has been scheduled in Paris Court July 10th. They’ll pursue an emergency measure to stop the dismantling of the service, based on the fact that this closure was negotiated verbally with no prior administrative decision or warning. Meanwhile, sixty parents showed up this morning to the Elysee presidential palace. They were quickly surrounded by four police cars. However, a small delegation was allowed to bring a letter asking President Hollande and Prime Minister Manual Vallis for an emergency hearing. The parents’ lawyer concludes, “Nicole Delépine’s retirement is an opportunity to get rid of an embarrassing situation in a system that generalizes therapeutic testing by pretending it’s necessary. Today, parents are fighting back – they want to allow children every chance to heal, without exposing them to procedures deemed unsafe.