Name: Abubakar Nadama
Died: August 23, 2005
Age at death: 5
Cause of death: Medical malpractice during chelation therapy
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Abubakar and his family lived in Britain, where Abubakar’s parents “were determined to do anything they could” to cure his autism. They had visits from therapists three times daily and fed Abubakar a strictly controlled diet.
At age 5, Abubakar, his mother, and his sister moved to the United States so that he could receive chelation therapy. There, the doctor tied him to a papoose board (a form of near-total restraint), started an IV, and administered the wrong medication, at a higher dose than recommended, too quickly. Abubakar’s heart stopped, and he died.
Chelation is known to be effective for heavy metal poisoning, but it is not approved for autism and there is no evidence that it is useful for treating autism. Even without the medical malpractice, chelation would have been a dangerous and useless treatment; autism experts responded to the incident with the regretful statement that it was only a matter of time before someone died from unnecessary chelation therapy.
The doctor has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.