Roy Horn reported to have 'given up' on therapy
21 July 2005, BAD HEILBRUNN, GERMANY - Illusionist Roy Horn was flying back to Las Vegas amid reports Thursday that he has "given up" on experimental stem cell therapy at an exclusive clinic in his native Germany.
21 July 2005
BAD HEILBRUNN, GERMANY - Illusionist Roy Horn was flying back to Las Vegas amid reports Thursday that he has "given up" on experimental stem cell therapy at an exclusive clinic in his native Germany.
Unconfirmed reports said Horn, one-half of the famous 'Siegfried and Roy' act, was leaving the Leonardis Clinic in Bad Heilbrunn in Bavaria after having backed out of a key surgical procedure at the last minute.
Officially, the clinic issued a statement saying 60-year-old Horn was "homesick to see his animals" and had checked out of the facility to return to his and Siegfried's palatial compound on the outskirts of Las Vegas by the weekend.
Horn was attacked 18 months ago by a tiger during a live show in Las Vegas and left partially paralysed.
Horn reportedly told clinic staffers, "I'm just sick of hospitals", and spoke of his yearning desire to see his menagerie at his sprawling Secret Garden estate in Nevada.
The clinic statement said Horn's regimen of therapy had "proceeded nicely according to schedule" up until now.
Unofficially, however, Horn was reported to have backed out of a key surgical procedure that had been planned for next week at a specialist hospital in Graz, Austria.
"We had reserved an entire floor for Roy and his entourage," Dr. Peter Panzenboeck, an orthopedic surgeon at the Graz hospital, told Bild newspaper.
Since his arrival at the Leonardis clinic in Bavaria, doctors had taken stem cells from cartilage in Horn's knees. The cells then underwent a procedure in which they multiplied over a period of four weeks before being ready for injection into his knees."
Some 12 million stem cells were taken. They have multiplied to 80 million and are now ready for injection.
Horn was scheduled for admission to the Graz clinic for orthopaedic arthroscopic surgery to insert the cells into his knees.
But Horn cancelled the operation at the last minute, prompting Bild newspaper to speculate that he had "given up" on his chances of recovery. The report fuelled speculation that Horn's condition had seriously deteriorated in recent months.
Accompanied by his partner of more than 40 years, Siegfried Fischbacher, Horn arrived June 21 in his native Germany where he was whisked to the clinic in Bavaria.
Fischbacher, 66, was born in Bavaria, not far from where the clinic is located. He has a sister, a Catholic nun, whom he used to fly annually to Las Vegas as a birthday present and introduce to the audience during the show.
Horn is from Nordenham, a small town outside Bremen near the North Sea coast. The two men met in the early 1960s aboard a German cruise ship where Fischbacher was performing as a magician and Horn was a ship's steward.
Details of their longtime relationship are shrouded in secrecy. But they claim that Horn had a pet cheetah with him on ship. As they became friends, they realised they could form a unique act combining big cats and stage magic.
After touring vaudeville houses and music halls in Europe, they landed a successful gig at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.
Aiming for the big time, the pair emigrated to the United States. They were a sensation in Las Vegas, where nightclub acts hitherto had been characterised by stand-up comics and singers.
Their mixture of animals and magic and scantily-clad chorus dancers revolutionised entertainment in Las Vegas, where they dominated the entertainment scene for two decades.
Horn was attacked by a 180-kilo tiger named Montecore during a live show on his 59th birthday on October 3, 2003, at The Mirage resort in Las Vegas. The 7-year-old tiger bit into the performer's neck and dragged him off the stage.
The illusionist sustained four deep wounds and had a stroke. The tiger's teeth damaged an artery that carries oxygen to the brain, and crushed Horn's trachea.
Horn has said he fainted during the performance and the tiger was trying to help him. Animal experts have disputed that theory.
The final U.S. Department of Agriculture report on the tiger attack that left Roy Horn partially paralysed was released July 1. But it does not really answer the main question - why the attack occurred in the first place.
The report says moments after the attack one employee jumped on the tiger's tail and tried to open its mouth to free Horn. Another employee sprayed a fire extinguisher into Montecore's face. Finally the tiger let go.
The animal crushed Horn's windpipe and damaged an artery carrying oxygenated blood to the illusionist's brain leaving him partially paralysed.
Aside from those new details, the report does not answer the vital question of why.
Subject: German news