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Doctors Say Chances for Girl’s Survival Slim

August 1, 1995

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Doctors struggling to save a 6-year-old girl with a giant, cancerous tumor swelling her belly, today gave her only a 10 percent chance of survival.

Olivia Pilhar has been on a respirator since Monday because her right lung, pressed by the tumor, was inflamed and no longer fully functional.

A small tumor discovered on her kidney May 18 grew to almost fill her abdominal cavity _ and weigh over nine pounds _ while her parents refused to let doctors treat Olivia. It has now largely displaced her organs.

Doctors began chemotherapy Saturday against her parents’ wishes after experts determined the girl could die if not treated. They are also using radiation to try to shrink the tumor, but it is too early to tell if the treatment is working, doctors said.

The tumor has been growing at a rate of a half inch a day, said Dr. Franz Waldhauser, deputy director of the university clinic for pediatrics at Vienna General Hospital, where Olivia is in intensive care.

Medical experts said her chances of recovery would have surpassed 90 percent had her parents agreed back in May to chemotherapy followed by an operation to remove the tumor.

But on the advice of a former doctor opposed to modern medical treatment of cancer, Olivia’s parents refused chemotherapy and took her out of the country. They were persuaded to return to Austria last week, but again refused treatment, forcing the decision to administer treatment against their will.

``Now the ice is so thin, we have to ask ourselves if it will carry us,″ said Waldhauser, giving Olivia only a 10 percent chance to survive.

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