An autopsy will be conducted today on Jett Travolta, the 16-year old son of actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston.
He died after apparently suffering a seizure and hitting his head on a bathtub in the family’s vacation home in Nassau, Bahamas. The teen had a history of seizures and reportedly suffered one a week.
"Jett was the most wonderful son that two parents could ever ask for and lit up the lives of everyone he encountered," Travolta said in a statement posted on his website.
"We are heartbroken that our time with him was so brief. We will cherish the time that we had with him for the rest of our lives."
The Washington Post reports Jett became very sick at the age of 2 with Kawasaki disease, an inflammation of the blood vessels that occurs in young children and can cause heart damage.
His mother blamed household cleaners and fertilizers. She employed a detoxification program based on teachings from the Church of Scientology that reportedly helped improve his health.
Travolta and Preston are both practicing Scientologists. The Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles declined to comment to the Washington Post.
Despite the anti-medication leanings of the church, the teen had reportedly been taking Depakote, an anti- seizure medication, but stopped taking it when it became ineffective.
Some anti-seizure medications have recently been linked to suicidal thoughts.
Seizures are an ongoing terror for parents of children who experience them.
A seizure is an electrical storm in the brain caused when brain cells begin firing all at once, according to Wendy Wright, a neurologist at Emory University in Atlanta said speaking to USA Today.
Seizures can be triggered by epilepsy, medication, head trauma or medication. Repeated seizures fall under the catch-all diagnosis of epilepsy and can lead to brain damage. Seizures are more common in people with autism and mental retardation.
It is estimated about one third of the 180,000 new epilepsy cases each year begin in childhood. The Epilepsy Foundation reports some children grow out of epilepsy by late adolescence. In some cases, surgery or nerve stimulation has been used to quiet seizures.
Kawasaki disease affects 19 out of every 100,000 kids in the U.S., and is most common among children of Japanese and Korean descent but can affect other ethnicities. It strikes boys more often than girls and is most common between the ages of two to five.
Symptoms include extremely red eyes, a rash on the main part of the body and in the genital area, red, dry and cracked lips, swollen palms, a sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. It can then evolve into joint pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
Kawasaki disease is also known as mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome because it affects the lymph nodes, skin and mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose and throat.
It can clear up in a few days or if untreated, can lead to serious complications that can cause aneurysms in blood vessels that feed blood to the heart.
Treatment includes high doses of aspirin to control the inflammation, and intravenous doses of gamma globulin, purified antibodies that help the body fight infection.
There is no test for Kawasaki disease, so it is often diagnosed by ruling out other conditions.
The condition is not preventable, reports the Mayo Clinic, but in many cases, children grow out of the condition. #