Parents chose red mud over chemo: inquest
Tamar Stitt received alternative treatment in El Salvador. File picture: Sunday Night

UPDATE: The doctor who approved Tamar Stitt's fitness to fly weeks before she died of cancer said her parents felt they were being bullied into agreeing to approve chemotherapy they were not sure about.

Tamar Stitt died in 2009 of liver and stomach cancer, after travelling to El Salvador with her parents Trevor and Arely, who refused to sanction chemotherapy for their daughter despite the cancer spreading.

The trip was taken on the eve of a Supreme Court hearing, at which a judge said he would almost certainly have ordered the child be treated at Princess Margaret Hospital against her parents’ wishes.

Months later, she was dead.

At the opening day of an inquest into her death, counsel assisting the coroner Kate Ellson described how Tamar left the country for El Salvador - her mother's homeland - on the same day as the scheduled court hearing.

When she got there, she was given 'Red Mud' treatment, which involved clay being wrapped around her body.

The inquest was told the Stitts approached Dr Alastair Nuttall in the hours before they were due to go to court to ask him for a fitness to fly certificate for their daughter.

Dr Nuttall said after he was given the background to the case, he signed the certificate, which allowed Tamar to leave the country.

"The family felt they had been corralled into a position of making a desperate decision," Dr Nuttall said.

"The parents clearly felt threatened by (the doctors)."

During a story with Sunday Night program filmed in weeks before her death, Mrs Stitt and her husband said they believed natural medicines and their faith would cure their daughter, despite warnings she would not survive without chemotherapy.

Reporter Rhani Sadler is scheduled to be a witness.

Sergeant Sharon Powell, who investigated the death for the coroner, revealed that doctors who first saw Tamar became concerned, after Mr Stitt said he would have trouble convincing his wife - who was a healer in her home country - Tamar needed chemotherapy.

Mrs Stitt earlier failed in an application to have the inquest postponed because she had only received confirmation of legal aid funding on Friday.

She and her husband, who separated late last year, are both scheduled to be the last witnesses to give evidence in the three-day inquest.

The West Australian

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