In 2015, Australian 6-year-old Aidan Fenton attended a controversial week-long "self-healing" workshop meant to treat his diabetes. After attending a course and returning to a nearby hotel, the boy collapsed in his family's room; his parents' screams got the attention of staff, who called police, but Aidan died at the scene, the Washington Post reports. Now, nearly two years later, his parents, ages 56 and 41, have been arrested and charged with their son's manslaughter. Police say Aidan was denied food and insulin, and they say his parents were complicit in that denial; their "gross negligence" caused his death, police say, per the Sydney Morning Herald. If convicted, they face 25 years in jail.
The workshop was run by Hongchi Xiao, a Chinese man who describes himself as a "healer" and practices what he calls "paidalajin" therapy. It involves fasting, stretching, and slapping the skin until it bruises in order to release "poisoned blood." He has not been charged in Aidan's death, and in a Facebook post shortly after the incident he denied responsibility. But he was arrested in November in the UK on suspicion of manslaughter after a 71-year-old woman with diabetes died during one of his retreats. He's currently out on bail. Xiao insists that a study shows his paidalajin therapy can "cure" diabetes, though he notes that during a "healing crisis" while undergoing the therapy, patients needed treatment including "rapid action insulin to prevent ketoacidosis," a medical emergency that can lead to death. (A family faces charges in the death of a teen after a 68-day fast.)