ROME (AP) — Augusto Odone, a former World Bank economist, defied skeptical scientists to invent a treatment to try to save the life of his little boy, wasting away from a neurological disease, and to give hope to other children afflicted with the same genetic defect.
Odone, 80, died on Thursday in his native Italy, five years after the death of his son Lorenzo, who astonished doctors by surviving decades longer than they predicted.
The concoction, derived from natural cooking oils, became known as Lorenzo's Oil, which was also the title of a movie depicting the relentless efforts by Odone and his late wife, Michaela, to try to find a cure.
Cristina Odone told The Associated Press on Friday that her father had died in Acqui Terme, a town in northwestern Italy in the area where he grew up. She said he had lived for many years with a series of medical problems and had died of organ failure precipitated by a lung infection.
"What was so remarkable about my father is that he would never accept a death sentence, either for his own son or for himself," she said. "He was supposed to die eight years ago, six years ago, four years ago. Till the very end, he would not accept either medical wisdom or a death sentence that nature would impose."
In the 1992 film "Lorenzo's Oil," Nick Nolte played Odone, while Susan Sarandon played his wife.
Lorenzo was diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy, a neurological disease also known as ALD, when he was 6 and living in the Washington, D.C., area. Doctors predicted the rare genetic disease would kill him in a few years and that he would not survive childhood. But Augusto and his wife Michaela refused to accept an outlook of doom.
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