Dr. Eugene Aksenoff, who treated Michael Jackson on four separate occasions in Tokyo, warned the late “King of Pop” against taking stimulants because they could be life-threatening.
The 85-year-old medical director of the International Clinic in Minato Ward remembers the last time they met in March 2007, when Jackson asked for stimulants so that he could get through some demanding performances.
Aksenoff refused to prescribe them because they are addictive and potentially life-threatening, the Russian doctor told The Japan Times.
“He tried to convince me (to give him stimulants), saying we have a long enough history to trust each other, but I told him: ‘If you start using them, you cannot stop increasing the amount. They will kill you in three years,’ ” Aksenoff said in an interview in Japanese. “He said he would pay for it, but I said it wasn’t about the money.”
As police in the U.S. continue their investigation to determine the exact cause of Jackson’s death, Aksenoff recalls that the singer suffered chronic fatigue, fever, insomnia and other symptoms for which he took a large amount of drugs. Aksenoff said although he never gave Jackson addictive drugs, he suspects the cause of death was an overdose of addictive drugs such as stimulants.
He also suspects one of the major factors that was causing Jackson such symptoms as fatigue and fever was excessive use of steroids or other drugs taken over a long time, both orally and in lotions, to whiten his skin.
Aksenoff said this weakened Jackson’s immune system, his skin could not breathe well and he developed an allergy to sunlight.
“He once told me he was taking drugs to whiten his skin. I never asked why, for how long or what drugs he had been taking because I was never interested,” Aksenoff said.
“His face was white, but his back and hip had some dark spots,” he said. “His skin had signs of sutures and gluing, and to a doctor’s eye he apparently underwent skin transplants.”
Steroids are often used as allergy drugs, and taking them in the quantities prescribed by doctors is not dangerous, Aksenoff said. However, given the whiteness of Jackson’s skin, Aksenoff suspects he had taken far more steroids or other drugs than normally prescribed.
Aksenoff was effectively a home doctor in Tokyo to Jackson and his children, having prescribed him drugs such as antibiotics, sleeping pills and other medicines on four occasions, he said. He also prescribed medicine for his children when they had come down with a fever in Japan, he said.
Aksenoff was born in Manchuria to Russian parents in 1924. He came to Japan at 18, where he studied at Waseda University and The Jikei University. He worked as a U.S. Army doctor before opening the International Clinic in 1960.
Fluent in Japanese, Russian, English, Chinese and German, Aksenoff has also treated former French President Jacques Chirac, pop star Madonna and other celebrities. He treats illegal foreign residents and tourists for free, for which he won the Eiji Yoshikawa cultural award.
He met Jackson for the first time on Dec. 23, 1996. When the pop star first tried to go to the International Clinic, fans stormed his car and he had to abort the visit, so they decided to meet at Jackson’s suite in Capitol Tokyu Hotel in Chiyoda Ward, Aksenoff said. The hotel has since been demolished and will be replaced with a new hotel and office building next year.
“Jackson had a high fever and was dehydrated after a performance at Tokyo Dome wearing a tight-fitting and heavy costume,” Aksenoff said.
He gave Jackson antibiotics and nutrition through an I.V. After Jackson recovered, they had dinner together at a restaurant, he said.
About two years later they met at the same hotel again, and this time he treated Jackson for a fever and dehydration.
Their third meeting took place two years later, when his two children — Prince and Paris — had high fevers. Jackson’s third child had not been born at that point. Aksenoff again went to the Capitol Tokyu suite to treat them.
The children recovered by the next morning, but Jackson was exhausted after a sleepless night with his sick kids, Aksenoff said.
“He was holding his children and telling them: ‘You are gonna be OK. You will take medicine now,’ ” he said.
On the fourth occasion, Jackson asked for stimulants and other drugs to treat a sore throat and other coldlike symptoms, Aksenoff said. Jackson was staying at a suite in the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Chinzan-so.
While Jackson did not talk much with Aksenoff about his personal life, the Russian doctor saw how much he loved his children.
“He was a gentleman and a really good father,” Aksenoff said, adding that he never saw Jackson with his wife in Tokyo. “I want to tell his children: ‘You are right. He is a really good father.’ “