The British doctors – scandal, tragedy and a mystery.
In November 1991 the British doctors, Alastair Hay and John Foran, in the medical paper the Lancet denied that Kosova in 1990 had been stricken by poisoning. They had not found any poison in their blood samples.
The samples were taken by John Foran. He arrived in Kosova March 23, the day after the big break out of the “epidemic”. He was accompanied by Gwynne Roberts, well known film man from London. They had earlier in 1990 taken blood samples in a Kurd refugee camp, later analyzed by Dr Hay. There was poison in the samples, and they had written about their findings in the Lancet.
According to Roberts, Foran had from the very beginning suspected that there also in Kosova had been poisoning, but he started to hesitate after his arrival there. However, in their very short notice in the Lancet there is no information on how Foran worked. There is nothing about where in Kosova the blood samples were taken, or how the patients were selected. And nothing about the time span between the patients´ first symptoms and the taking of blood samples. This is important because the poison disappear quite soon out of the body. Another thing is that the notice says nothing about his contacts with doctors and teachers in Kosova.
One explanation could be that the Lancet halved their manuscript. Another that they also wrote a doctor report, which surely answers many questions. They had sent this report to the French organisation Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (International Federation for Human Rights), which had promised to deliver it to ”the Albanian community”.
That sounds very good. But there is a problem: Nobody in ”the Albanian community” has heard of the report.
And that is one part of a scandal!
Nevertheless, in the Lancet notice the doctors tried to describe, how the epidemic started in the town Podujeva. They wrote that in a school there was hysteria, fear and false rumors about poisoning. When pupils in one class throw a window saw another class running out to the school yard, they did the same.
I am quite sure Dr Foran didn´t get this information after interviews with the pupils. At best, it is second-hand information.
Are the sources teachers? Doctors? If so, were they Serbs or Albanians?
Surely, this is mentioned in the report, which never reached its goal in Kosova…
But we can listen to a witness, a former pupil, in 1990 18 years old.
Here is her story about how it started in the same school:
When the witness entered her class-room she discovered that something, which looked like “white crayon” had been placed on the desks. She got curious, poked in it with a finger and then smelled. A class fellow did the same thing, but that girl soon got symptoms: There came foam from her mouth and she couldn´t answer when spoken to. She couldn´t grasp signals from world outside herself.
The witness then saw that many pupils had fainted in their desks. Other pupils had got pains and were crying. A weeping teacher shouted to her: “Get out quickly”, so she run to the school yard. There on the ground many pupils were lying down, fainted or with terrible convulsions. She couldn´t avoid treading on them, because they were so many.
She wanted go home, but got symptoms herself (difficulty in breathing, a feeling being strangled). She managed to reach friends, living in the neighborhood. She stayed there until next day.
But now she started to shake. Adults tried to help her, but the shaking continued 10-15 minutes.
After some days she was taken to the hospital in Prishtina, and got medicine, but it didn’t help much. The shaking 10-15 minutes went on during three months. After that she got them more rarely. The last one she had in the autumn 1990. But she and her family have always been afraid the shaking will return. One girl in her class had shaking attacks during six years.
She says the poisoning has given her wounds, which will never be healed.
This witness told me something she had experienced herself. She (and her class-fellow) didn’t get symptoms because of fear. They got curious and poked in something. After that, they got their symptoms.
Her story has more credibility than the version in the Lancet.
I managed to get contact with Dr Hay. When I asked him to send the report he didn’t answer. I wrote again and mentioned that the report was unknown in Kosova.
Still no answer.
At last I got an idea. I asked Avni Dervishi, at that time working for a political party in the Swedish parliament, to write to Dr Hay. I underlined it was important that the receiver could notice that the mail was written in the “parliament of Sweden”.
Avni Dervishi wrote and now Dr Hay answered! He wrote that he had looked in vain for his copy of the report. He referred Avni to the Lancet and hoped the notice could be enough for him.
Now I wrote to Dr Hay and tried to explain, why we needed the report.
He answered that he had looked for the report again but hadn’t found it. Now he couldn’t do more, because it was time for him to have holidays.
He got a new mail from me, when he was back after the holidays. I wrote that I supposed he had finished his looking for the report without success. If so, we have to accept that it is lost for ever. I added that there is another possibility, that John Foran may have a copy of it. I mentioned that I hadn’t found an address to Foran and then I continued:
“In earlier mails to you, I have asked you to give me information about John Foran. But, unfortunately, you have never done it. After all, maybe he is the only person in the world, who has a copy of the report. But I know nothing about him. I want to know:
Is he still alive?
Is he not living in Great Britain?
And if he is alive, I want to know, how I can reach him.”
Dr Hay answered directly:
”My only other suggestion is that you contact Gwynne Roberts who knew John Foran better than I did. Gwynne Roberts runs a film company in London. His details come up on Google under his name”.
That answer made me disappointed. But at last I found a working address to Gwynne Roberts, who, however, couldn´t give me an address to John Foran. Now I wrote my last mail to Dr Hay:
“Dear Dr Hay,
Unfortunately Gwynne Roberts couldn’t give me information about John Foran. He has not heard from him in many years. He only knew Foran some years has been in Afghanistan. I have asked organisations, working there, but no one has heard of him. I have also looked for him in a British doctor register, but in vain. Maybe he is dead, and if so, I have maybe lost the last chance to get your report.
You are, doctor Hay, the leading toxicologist in Great Britain. So, I am convinced that you with your contacts quite easily could find out Foran’s whereabouts. And definitively if he still is alive. I asked you about him two years ago. and after two years I only got from you a reference to Gwynne Roberts.
And long ago I told you that your report never reached Kosova. Is that fact not of interest for you? The organisation, which should have delivered it, International Federation for Human Rights, refused to answer Avni Dervishi and me, but could they react in the same way to you? They must have promised you to send the report, so you have the right to ask them what happened then.
If you wonder about my interest in this question, my answer is:
I have written a book about what happened in Kosovo in 1990. But not having your report was really a problem. Of course I don’t doubt you found no poison and I am convinced of John Foran’s competence. But the notice in the Lancet does not answer a lot of questions! One example: I want to know the time span between the patients getting their symptoms and Foran taking the blood samples.
And it looks like Foran and you, when writing in the Lancet in Nov.1991, knew nothing about what happened after his visit to Kosovo in March 1990: The epidemic continued during the whole year. 7521 cases were identified. (You wrote about 3000).
The central hospital in Prishtina found cholinesterase activity reduced on a group of patients. The Croat doctor Franjo Pllavsic found an organophosphate in an urine sample. Also Serbs were poisoned and also children 1-6 years.
These are only some of the facts indicating there also had been poisoning.
Maybe you heard about the French doctor Bernard Benedetti? He took 150 blood samples and after they were analyzed he said “a massive poisoning had happened.” But suddenly he went silent and even tried to prevent a journalist to write about it. Later he has said the French government had acted to prevent that the relationship between France and Yugoslavia was disturbed.
I ask you again to use your influence to find out something about John Foran and your report.
And now I see that in the Lancet you write that two doctors took part in Foran’s mission. Foran was one of them but who was the other doctor? This could be a possibility to get the report.
Very soon I got an answer from Dr Hay. which above all consisted of objections against my reminder that at least a part of the Kosova patients could have been poisoned. It was clear Dr Hay didn´t know at all that many patients had NOT experienced a “rapid recovery” from their symptoms. It is typical for mass hysteria that the symptoms disappear very rapid (within 2 hours), but many Kosova patients had their symptoms much longer time.
I had written to Dr Hay in order to ask him to help me. He used one single line to answer my request:
“Regrettably I do not have the time to track down John Foran or the other doctor.”
Probably, John Foran was the last chance to get the report.
Of course Dr Hay could, using his contacts, quite easily found out what has happened to Foran.
But he hasn´t time to do it.
Nevertheless he has:
*lost his own copy of the report;
*Learnt that the copy for Kosova does not exist and that
*the Lancet notice can’t replace the report.
He refuses to take responsibility for his own investigation!
The Lancet notice has both Radovanovic´ and mass hysteria experts in Internet used as proofs, showing that Kosova was hit by a mass hysteria. Their readers had no reason (or possibility) to control the reference to the Lancet notice. That is why also the so called Kosovo Commission in 2000 draw the same conclusion.
This is the tragedy in this sad story.
Avni Dervishi and I also tried to get the report by contacting the French organisation, which had promised to send it to “the Albanian Community”. I myself have posted letters, sent mails and faxed. But no answer has arrived.
This is one part of the scandal.
Much time has been spent to track John Foran. The information from Gwynne Roberts that Foran has been in Afghanistan was checked. But no organisation had heard of him.
Foran is a mystery!