Saturday, 3 January 2009

The Tragic Death of John Travolta's Son

An autopsy is planned for Monday for John Travolta's son, who died apparently after hitting his head on a bathtub after a seizure, authorities said.

Jett Travolta, 16, died on Friday morning at the family's vacation home in the Bahamas.

A house caretaker found the teenager unconscious in the bathroom on Friday morning.

"A nanny attempted to revive him, all attempts were made, but he couldn't be

revived," Travolta's attorney, Michael Ossi, who is also in the Bahamas, told Friday. "They tried as hard as they could to revive Jett."

A police officer who declined to be named told the Associated Press the boy apparently hit his head on the bathtub.

An ambulance took him to a Freeport hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The family, including Jett Travolta's mother, Kelly Preston, and his 8-year-old sister, Ella, had been celebrating the New Year in the Bahamas.

Ossi said that the teenager "has had seizures in the past, but they were controlle

d. This one couldn't be."

Royal Bahamas Police Force spokeswoman Loretta Mackey told the AP that Jett Travolta died from hitting his head in a bathtub.

Obie Wilchcombe, a parliament member and former tourism minister in the Bahamas, told the AP he expects a "quick resolution" for the autopsy.

Possible Role of Kawasaki Syndrome

Jett Travolta's health made national news in 2002. It was at this time that his mother disclosed that at age 2 he had had a poorly understood condition known as Kawasaki syndrome, a collection of symptoms that stem from swollen arteries.

Researchers believe that inflamation from Kawasaki syndrome, or KS, can lead to convulsions and seizures.

KS primarily affects children under the age of 5, though it can occur in older children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about nine out of 100,000 children have KS. Incidence is higher among Japanese and Korean children, though KS can occur among any ethnicity.

However, KS expert Dr. Robert Frenck, a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious disease at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, said KS is not usually associated with deadly seizures -- especially in children who have already recovered from KS, which he said is a temporary condition.

"If there's a major complication, and if someone dies from it, it is a [coronary] aneurysm," he said. "It doesn't happen frequently, but that is what we really worry about. ... That can set the kids up for a heart attack."

Frenck added that the only type of seizure that can occur in patients with KS is a febrile seizure, which arises from a high fever.

The New York Post and other media outlets have suggested in past reports that the Travolta's son has autism, though the family has always maintained that their son's condition is KS. Autism is also associated with seizures.

"There is a relationship between autism and seizures; as many as 40 percent of children and young adults with autism may experience seizure, and adolescence is a particular time of vulnerability," said Dr. Bryan King, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Seattle Children's Hospital's Research Center for Health Services and Behavioral Research.

"There are hormonal changes that could increase the risk of seizure, and certainly there are ongoing brain changes that take place during adolescence, but no one knows why the risk increases in older children."

Regardless of the cause, Ossi said that the family is now grieving. He added that the incident "is the worst pain any parent can experience, the loss of child."

Speaking for John Travolta, Ossi said, "This is the worst day of his life."

Photo: John Travolta's Son Dies in Bahamas: Jett Travolta, 16, reportedly suffered a seizure at his family's vacation home
In this file photo, John Travolta and son Jett walk to a waiting helicopter at the Santa Monica... Expand
(Lucky Mat/Getty Images)

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