The following is an excerpt from a group email sent to me by
Doug Nash of the Dana Point-based Spindrift 43 Windcastle,
who is a veteran of the '04 Baja Ha-Ha. It's about the tragic
death of his wife Silvie Fink at Epi Island, Vanuatu. She died
12 hours after taking Miracle-Mineral-Supplement
, a so-called alternative medicine
prophylactic and remedy for malaria and many other diseases.
It was sold to her by another cruising couple. The 76-yearold
Nash and his wife Silvie, who was from Mexico, had been
cruising the South Pacific for several years.
"My life during the past five weeks has been a nightmare,
but I've been supported by many people in the cruising community
here and abroad, plus all Silvie's friends and relatives
back home in Mexico and in the States. The outpouring of
grief has been overwhelming. But no one else can answer all
the questions people have asked about what happened to her,
so I must do that. Here is a summary:
"While in Port Vila, Silvie decided to purchase some Miracle-Mineral-Supplement
that she'd heard about from a cruising couple. The guy is from
Belgium and his wife is from California. I was not happy about
her wanting to try the stuff, but I didn't interfere because I
knew nothing about it at the time. Besides, she was a grown
and savvy woman with lots of experience with all kinds of
good and bad medicines. She'd even done a little internet
research on MMS over several weeks before trying it. Neither
of us thought she would be in any danger from taking it. How
dreadfully wrong we were!
"We left Port Vila on August 4, and sailed 90 miles north
to Epi, which is another island in the Vanuatu group. We
anchored at Lamen Bay the day after their annual canoe
race festival. Having decided to stay an extra day at the nice
anchorage, Sylvie decided to try MMS. Its proponents had
told her that it would prevent malaria, which is prevalent in
this part of the world.
"From almost the moment Silvie drank the mixture of MMS
and lime juice — which she'd brewed up according to the
instructions of Jim Humble,
the principal proponent of the
stuff — things went wrong.
She became nauseated, and
was soon both vomiting and
suffering from diarrhea. But
since the MMS literature
emphasized that this was a
normal reaction, she assumed
it would pass. It didn't.
"It turned into a day of
torture, with Silvie gradually
getting worse, to the point
of having severe abdominal
pains, then urinary pains. I
helped her all day, bathing
her, comforting her and trying
to get liquids into her. But she
couldn't keep anything down.
About the time it started to get
dark, she began to feel faint.
That's when I became fully alarmed. She fell into a coma while
I was on the VHF calling for assistance.
"With her unresponsive, I put out another radio call, this
time for immediate emergency care. Fellow cruisers rushed to
our boat within minutes. For over an hour we administered
CPR and oxygen. But neither they, nor an adrenalin shot
administered by a physician from the village, were able to
revive her. Sylvie died aboard Windcastle around 9 p.m., just12 hours after she'd taken that fatal drink of MMS. Her body
was flown back to Port Vila the next day and put in the hospital
morgue. I brought Windcastle to Port Vila the next day.
"Since then, there has been — because Sylvie hadn't died a
natural death — a three-week-long police investigation involving
Vanuatu criminal investigators. For one thing, it's illegal
for anyone to promote or sell MMS as a medical remedy in
Vanuatu. Australian joint command investigators, who aid in
law enforcement in Vanuatu, also became involved. That led
to a court order and, eventually, a senior pathologist's being
flown from Melbourne to conduct a post mortem autopsy. That
was two weeks ago. Then Silvie's son and daughter agreed that
her body should be flown to New Zealand for cremation.
"Last week, I accompanied Sylvie's body to Auckland by
plane. I was present for the cremation and arranged to have
her ashes sent to her daughter Aretha in Mexico City. I'm now
back on Windcastle in Port Vila, where I await the results of
the autopsy from Australia's Victorian Institute of Forensic
Medicine in Melbourne. I'm also dealing with the need to secure
our boat against the approaching cyclone season, which
may mean having to sail her to another country.
"My heart has been absolutely crushed by the sudden loss
of my dear wife Silvie. It's so shocking I can hardly believe
it. I miss her immensely, and Windcastle is empty without
her presence. But with all of her relatives and friends, Silvie,
who brought so much joy and happiness into the world and
to us, will live on forever in our hearts and minds. I've been
told that the villagers at Epi, who had been so entertained by
Sylvie's dancing the night before she died, have built a shrine
to honor her.
"As for MMS, I wish I'd done a better job of preventing
Sylvie, who had become the love of my life, from messing with
it. I know now that it's a dangerous, toxic chemical which, if
ingested, can be lethal. MMS killed my wife, Silvie."
So ends Doug's letter.
Crew on Tres Estrellas, 35-ft Horstman tri