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Medical Records Inconclusive About Cause of Arafat's Death

  • Larry James

The New York Times reported Thursday that a close examination of Yasser Arafat's medical records show no conclusive cause for the Palestinian leader's death.

Yasser Arafat's medical records show that the immediate cause of death was a stroke that resulted from a bleeding disorder caused by some unknown infection.

The New York Times reports that the records from the French military hospital where the Palestinian leader was treated until his death last November show that, despite extensive testing, doctors could not determine the underlying disease that led to his death.

Questions about the cause of his illness arose soon after Yasser Arafat fell ill last October. There was widespread speculation in the Israeli media that AIDS was the cause and many Palestinian officials continue to maintain that he was poisoned.

The Times report says neither of those was the likely cause of death. The newspaper says it presented the Arafat medical records to Israeli and American medical experts for their analysis. These experts say the records show that Mr. Arafat did not receive antibiotics until 15 days after he fell ill, just two days before his transfer to the Percy Military Training Hospital outside Paris. They say by that time it was too late to save him.

The Times report also charges that Mr. Arafat's doctors in Ramallah did not understand that their patient was suffering from a serious blood disease which led to the stroke that killed him. The newspaper says French doctors never found out what the specific cause of the infection was that led to the blood disorder.

Medical records also show that French doctors carried out a battery of toxicology tests and concluded that it is highly unlikely that Mr. Arafat was poisoned.

The records do not show if an AIDS test was ever performed, an omission that the New York Times medical experts described as "curious" or even "bizarre." An Israeli specialist in infectious disease said he would have done an AIDS test if for no other reason than to refute rumors that AIDS was the cause of death. The experts said that after studying the records it was improbable that AIDS was the cause.

Yasser Arafat's wife refused to have an autopsy carried out.

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