Press Release

Unusual treatment...scans showed Mehdi Jaffari's left carotid artery was almost unblocked after he applied leeches to his back, legs and neck.

(Photo: Peter Morris)

Kate Benson Medical Reporter
July 26, 2008

 

When Mehdi Jaffari was told his left carorid artery was so severely blocked he faced the risk of an imminent stroke, he turned the clock back to medieval times.  The 52-year-old counsellor, from Chatswood, brought more than 35 leeches from a Victorian farmer and applied them to his body daily.  Within five days, a CT angiogram showed the artery had cleared, stunning staff at Royal North Shore Hospital and his family.

 

Leeche therapy, first documented in Greece more than 4000 years ago, is not new in Sydney.  More than 50 Richardsonianus australis leeches are kept in a tank at Liverpool Hospital for use on patients who have had skin grafts or severed digits because their saliva contains hirudin, a chemical that acts as a powerful anticoagulant and vasodilator.

 

But using them on patients with severe cardiovascular disease has not yet become established practice in Australia.

 

"It should be, because the results have been amazing, "Mr Jaffari's wife, Tracy, said yesterday.

"Mehdi was able to achieve more in five days than anyone of us thought possible.

 

Mr Jaffari's journey began when he had four heart attacks one morning last September and was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital for an angiogram and stenting.

 

Four months later he was back in surgery when the stent blocked and he was told he had advanced cardiovascular damage, with his left carotid artery almost 80 percent blocked.



Cardiovascular disease, Australia's leading cause of death.

Specialists amazed by results from Hirudotherapy [Leech Therapy].

 

A good diet and healthy lifestyle did nothing to prevent Mehdi Jaffari from suffering four heart attacks one morning in September 2007, leading to an emergency angiogram and stenting procedure.

 

Heart specialists discovered Mehdi had a number of areas showing significant narrowing in his arteries and he was very lucky to have survived.



"My life changed dramatically" Mehdi explains, "as an active person, rehabilitation was lengthy; I experienced pain in different parts of my body, reaction to medications, shortness of breath and problems walking more than 100 meters".  Just Four months later, a routine angiogram confirmed his stent had become dangerously blocked and Mehdi was immediately admitted for life-saving heart bypass surgery.

 

Even though Mehdi enjoyed a healthy diet and lifestyle, there was a history of heart disease in his family. His surgeon recognized unusually advanced cardiovascular disease for his age of 52 years, which would normally be expected in an age group of 70 years or older. Significant disease was also noted in his left subclavian artery, as well as a narrowing in his left carotid artery, which was of particular concern and placed him in great risk of another heart attack or stroke, let alone the possibilities he wouldn't survive an additional myocardial infarction.

 

"I contacted my sister in Iran who like me, has years of experience as a specialist in Hirudotherapy [leech therapy]" His sister urgently attempted to organize a flight to Australia, but her late arrival due to a lengthy visa application coincided just days before the arranged surgery, meanwhile, trying to source medical leeches proved difficult and time had run out.....Mehdi's bypass went ahead. 


After eventually sourcing medical leeches, Mehdi first worked on symptoms of pain and shortness of breath and it wasn't long before he began to improve considerably.  "My previous active life returned and I felt great," he said.  After experiencing so many benefits, Mehdi was keen to begin Hirudotherapy [leech therapy] on his diseased left carotid and subclavian arteries.

Various investigations before and after surgery indicated significant stenosis [narrowing] in his left vertebral and carotid arteries, which were of concern to specialists and required further investigation.  Undeterred by these disturbing results, Mehdi ordered more leeches to begin five days of intensive Leech Therapy before a pre-arranged CT Angiogram.

 

Five days later on July 3rd 2008, Mehdi's results were studied by his vascular specialist.  Even more than Mehdi had hoped to achieve in a short time, his results showed there was no evidence of any narrowing.



Incredibly, after just five days, Mehdi's previous history of detected left subclavian and carotid artery narrowing were now not identified. Mehdi's cardiologist and a vascular specialist at RNS, aware Mehdi was using leeches, were surprised at the results.

 

"I'm highly surprised that he [Mehdi] improved so much in a short space of time," Mehdi's interventional cardiologist Peter Hansen commented during an interview printed in the Sydney Morning Herald on July 26th; and even though Mehdi's cardiologist expressed a degree of scepticism in the possibility that perhaps the first scan 'was over-estimated' and the second scan 'was under-estimated', he still concluded, "perhaps it was a miracle and leeches do work, I am willing to keep an open mind on this because the results were impressive," he continued, "nothing in Western medicine can make [plaque] disappear in a week, or indeed at all. Statins may reduce it but they rarely make it go away, so it's very interesting."

 

"Although leeches are used in many hospitals and private clinics around the world," Mehdi explains, "I am recognized as the only Leech Therapist in Australia. It has been my pleasure to invent new and successful methods using Leech Therapy to treat Cardiovascular and Vascular diseases [heart disease], which is a major problem in developed countries. It's such a shame the general public has not been provided with more information about these miraculous creatures."

Leeches have been used for thousands of years and recognised for their benefits; widely used in Europe, America and many other countries around the world.  In June 2004, the US FDA not only approved leeches for therapy, but an application from French firm Ricarimpex to market leeches for medicinal purposes was granted.

 

Mehdi's profession covers conventional and spiritual areas.  Renowned for his knowledge of the body, mind and spirit, he embraces natural healing, spiritual healing, energizing and Leech Therapy, helping thousands of people from around the world for over three decades.

 

Cardiovascular disease affects more than 3.5 million Australians and is one of Australia's leading health problems, killing one person every ten minutes.  Mehdi is passionate about helping others suffering this disease and is also investigating how leeches can help disadvantaged countries with little or no medical care.  "Leech therapy has given me a new lease of life," he says "and enables me to continue my commitment in helping others."




WHEN Mehdi Jaffari was told his left carotid artery was so severely blocked he faced the risk of an imminent stroke, he turned the clock back to medieval times.  The 52-year-old counsellor, from Chatswood, bought more than 35 leeches from a Victorian farmer and applied them to his body daily. Within five days, a CT angiogram showed the artery had cleared, stunning staff at Royal North Shore Hospital and his family.

 

Leech therapy, first documented in Greece more than 4000 years ago, is not new in Sydney. More than 50 Richardsonianus australis leeches are kept in a tank at Liverpool Hospital for use on patients who have had skin grafts or severed digits because their saliva contains hirudin, a chemical that acts as a powerful anticoagulant and vasodilator.

But using them on patients with severe cardiovascular disease has not yet become established practice in Australia.

"It should be, because the results have been amazing," Mr Jaffari's wife, Tracy, said yesterday.

 

"Mehdi was able to achieve more in five days than anyone of us thought possible."

 

Mr Jaffari's journey began when he had four heart attacks one morning last September and was rushed to Royal North Shore Hospital for an angiogram and stenting.  Four months later he was back in surgery when the stent blocked and he was told he had advanced cardiovascular damage, with his left carotid artery almost 80 per cent blocked.  On the advice of his sister, a leech therapist in Iran, Mr Jaffari placed seven of them on his back, legs and neck five times a day. After five days, a scan showed the artery had almost cleared.

 

"I'm highly surprised that he improved so much in such a short space of time," Mr Jaffari's interventional cardiologist, Peter Hansen, said.

 

"But I do have a degree of scepticism. Perhaps the first scan overestimated the narrowing of the artery and the second scan underestimated it. Or perhaps it was a miracle and leeches do work. I am willing to keep an open mind on this because the results were impressive."

 

Dr Hansen said while hirudin was known to dissolve blood clots, it was not known to dissolve plaque.  "Nothing in Western medicine can make [plaque] disappear in a week, or indeed at all. Statins may reduce it but they rarely make it go away, so it's very interesting."

 

In 2001 an international trial involving more than 17,000 heart attack patients found that bivalirudin, a genetically engineered form of hirudin, was 10 times more effective than heparin, the most commonly used blood-thinning agent.  But anyone wanting to buy leeches privately could find it difficult, the co-ordinator of the leech program at Liverpool Hospital, Katie Laing, said yesterday. Her supply is sourced from a farm at Echuca and several times during the year she is called upon to supply hospitals throughout Australia.

 

"For now, people may have to wait until the treatment becomes a little more orthodox," she said.

 

Sydney Morning Herald
Kate Benson Medical Reporter
July 26, 2008