Wednesday, October 3, 2012

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson To Tour Germany After The Conclusion Of The October 2012 General Conference

Lately, anti-Mormons have been spreading rumors about the possibility that Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is in the early stages of Alzheimers. These rumors are propagated in three different posts on Mormon Curtain (HERE, HERE, and HERE), as well as on Recovery From Mormonism. They attempt to support their rumor-mongering by noting how President Monson has not showed up at certain key events during the past three months. On one Mormon Curtain post, a person puts forth the ludicrous proposition that "Elder Packer wants to stage a kind of 'coup' whereby the Brethren would vote to give Pres. Monson 'emeritus' status, thus allowing Packer to ascend to the throne in spite of the fact that Monson is still alive".

But if President Monson really had Alzheimer's, would he be preparing to make a trip to Germany and speak at four different stops? From October 13-20, just after the conclusion of the 182nd Semiannual General Conference, President Monson will tour Germany, and will speak in four different cities — Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. Supposedly the trip was only planned in late September, and there is a full week between the meetings in Berlin and Munich, which has reportedly fueled some speculation even among faithful Church members in Germany. But Germany is somewhat special to President Monson, because during the 1970s, he worked with officials of the then-German Democratic Republic to get permission to build a temple there. The Freiburg Temple was dedicated in 1985, and five years later, the Wall came down. Many Mormons believe there is a relationship between those two events. President Monson tells much more of this story in his book "To The Rescue".

A person with Alzheimers is unlikely to make an overseas trip where he is scheduled to speak at four different location over a period of seven days. But even if President Monson slowly becomes incapacitated, this would pose no problem for the Church, whose senior leaders have some experience in dealing with it. When President Ezra Taft Benson became incapacitated before his death in 1994, Gordon B. Hinckley, who was the first counselor, was able to act in his stead with the help of the Quorum of the Twelve. Before that, Spencer W. Kimball's health also decline noticeably during the closing years of his life, and his counselors were able to shoulder the additional burdens.

Besides, there's a new treatment for Alzheimers which can slow the progression of the disease. Researchers have discovered that intravenous immunoglobulin, normally given to people with immune system problems, may have remarkable effects on Alzheimers sufferers. A study by a team at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York involved 24 people, 11 of whom had infusions of IVIG for three years at various doses. All performed well in tests after three years, but those on one particular dose for the whole period showed no decline at all. Dr Anne Corbett, a research manager at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the treatment is thought to work by clearing toxic proteins called beta amyloid from the brain, allowing brain cells to function properly. The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver. If tests continue to be successful, there could be a specific drug available in as little as 10 years.

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