A Worrisome Update On Jonathan Pollard's Health

October 13, 1995 - Ben Caspit - Ma'ariv

The deterioration in the condition of Jonathan Pollard's health is troubling; prison doctors fear that he has severe chronic rheumatoid arthritis. Complications or deterioration can be crippling.

Pollard is suffering from swelling and severe pain in his feet, his ankles, his knees and all of the joints in his body, and from the serious side effects of the drugs he has been given in recent weeks.

The symptoms started at the beginning of August when his ankles and feet became painfully swollen. He underwent a series of medical examinations in prison, but without a conclusive diagnosis. As his condition worsened, he had a choice between a wheelchair or trying a series of risky treatments, including taking very powerful steroids.

Pollard decided to take the treatment. The steroids, in fact, brought a recognizable improvement in his condition, but there were serious side effects that were difficult for him to bear. At a certain point, the doctors decided to stop treatment with steroids. The painful swelling in his joints returned with a vengeance.

Currently Pollard is waiting to see a specialist in rheumatoid diseases from Duke University. (ed. Note: FCI Butner [Prison] is presently under a "lockdown" state because of disturbances in the federal prisons in the United States. No outsiders, not even a medical specialist for Jonathan Pollard, can enter until the lockdown status is removed. It is not clear how long that may take.) The doctors' understanding of the situation is that Pollard's immune system very weak as a result of ten years in prison and prolonged, extreme stress.

"Over the last little while," Pollard's wife, Esther, said to Ma'ariv yesterday, "his health has just deteriorated. The stress which he is under - the slander and lies against him; the refusal to grant him Israeli citizenship; continuously having his path blocked and efforts to secure his release torpedoed - all of these things have taken their toll. I am very afraid for his health if something drastic is not done, and now!"

Note: As of November 5, 1995, Pollard still has not been able to see a specialist. Intense pain and swelling of his joints severely inhibiting his movement have compelled him to begin seeking relief through the use of steroids once again, though in smaller doses, because the side effects are so devastating.