Ex-patients pay tribute to doctor

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karabus family DAVID RITCHIE Patients, colleagues, friends and family of Professor Cyril Karabus gathered to make a video to send to the professor in Abu Dhabi to lift his spirits. Pictured on the far right are Karabuss children, left to right, Deborah, Michael and Sarah. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - Ex-patients and friends of Professor Cyril Karabus held a meeting on Monday night to show support for the doctor being held on manslaughter charges in Abu Dhabi.

He was arrested in transit in Dubai in August after having been tried and convicted in absentia for the death of a three-year-old patient he had treated at an Abu Dhabi hospital in 2000.

This conviction has since been overturned because Karabus was unaware of the charges. He was re-charged when he was arrested in August and is out on bail, but has to remain in the United Arab Emirates.

Karabus’s local lawyer, Michael Bagraim, said Karabus had an “excellent” legal team in Abu Dhabi.

“Karabus is not a young man, he has a bad heart and he is being kept under unpleasant circumstances,” Bagraim said. He added that the judge said there was “no evidence against him” and that the case should be dropped.

“This is a very frustrating situation because nothing is happening at all. The trial has been postponed to no date and that is where we are at.”

Bagraim said Monday night’s gathering at his Cape Town office was a chance for former patients to share their stories on camera, a recording of which would be sent to Karabus.

Karabus’s wife, Jenifer, left for Abu Dhabi on Monday, but his three children, Michael, Sarah and Deborah, were at the meeting.

According to one of his former patients, Karabus had reduced the mortality rate at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital from 80 percent to 19 percent.

Gordon Scott couldn’t hold back the tears as he described how Karabus went out of his way to get him medication from the US. “Thirty years ago I was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and the prognosis was poor and there was no treatment for me and the professor contacted the US and got protocol so that I could be treated.”

Neuroblastoma is the most common extra-cranial cancer in childhood and the most common cancer in infancy.

Jill McCulloch said her son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at 19 months. She said Karabus always reassured her when she had doubts.

“He was a great substitute grandfather and father to my child and he comforted every patient and reassured you that it would all be okay.”

Another patient, Bradley Rayner, who was treated by Karabus for haemophilia, said he hoped for his safe return.

Karabus, 79, is a former professor of paediatrics at UCT and the head of the oncology and haematology unit at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

His son Michael thanked the ex-patients for sharing their stories.

“For a lot of people it’s all just black and white and hopefully this meeting will add a personal touch to it,” he said.

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Cape Argus

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