Justina Pelletier has been kidnapped – but her parents know exactly where she is.
The 15-year-old Boston girl has been withheld from her family since a hospital took custody of the girl. The parents’ “crime”? Disagreeing with the doctor’s diagnosis. Justina’s parents are currently permitted to visit her just once per week for a single hour and can make just two phone calls during that same time period.
“It’s beyond any wildest nightmare that you could think of,” her father told a local TV station.
For the past nine months, Justina Pelletier’s parents have only been able to communicate with their daughter via secret messages folded inside origami notes. Lou Pelletier, the teen’s father, deemed the actions which has kept Justina from her home “kidnapping.” Before a local judge issued a gag order in the case, WTIC-TV, a local news station, was investigating decisions involving the custody of Justina Pelletier.
The Connecticut teenager was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease several years ago. The condition is a genetic disorder that often causes weakness and the loss of muscle coordination. But she lived a normal life.
In in February, the girl was hospitalized for the flue. After being admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital she was set to be examined by her specialist. Before the anticipated doctor could see Justina, a different team of doctors arrived and questioned the original diagnosis and declared an entirely different condition was impacting the young woman.
Linda Pelletier, the girl’s mother, said that the new crew of doctors informed them that Justina had somatoform disorder. If the woman’s statements are accurate, Boston Children’s Hospital staffers immediately called the state’s Department of Children and Family, and the state refused to let the parents leave with their child. Somatoform disorder is a mental, not a physical illness.
Linda and Lou Pelletier were ultimately escorted from the Boston medical facility by the security staff. Four days after they took their daughter to the hospital to be seen for the flu, they lost custody. The distraught parents have been fighting to regain their rights and bring their daughter home ever since.
West Hartford Psychologist Dean Hokanson told the local media that the Pelletier family was being accused of “too actively” pursuing health care matters for their daughter. Parents apparently can apparently can lose custody of their children for loving them so much they want to make sure they get the best possible care when they are ill.
A Boston Children’s Hospital report stated that that Justina exhibited the signs of “regressive behavior” and added that both parents had shown “resistance” to the new recommended treatment plans.
Lou and Linda Pelletier reportedly told the staff at Boston Children’s Hospital that their daughter’s care and medications were upon the recommendation of other reputable physicians she had been seeing for many years. One of Justina Pelletier’s doctors is Tufts Medical Center Specialist Dr. Mark Korson.
Korson said in an email on behalf of the parents:
“I am dismayed. … It feels like Justina’s treatment team is out to prove the diagnosis at all costs. … The (Boston Children’s Hospital) team has demanded that Justina be removed from the home. … This represents the most severe and intrusive intervention a patient can undergo … for a clinical hunch.”
One of the smuggled origami notes Justina Pelletier sent to her parents said, “I know you trust in me. Don’t forget it. I love you more than everything in the whole world.”
Before she found herself trapped inside the Boston Children’s Hospital, Justina appeared to be an active and happy teenager. According to excerpts from a WTIC investigation into the case, she enjoyed going ice skating and spending time on outings with her family. Hokanson spent the past five years working with Justina.
“It’s the most bizarre situation I’ve ever been involved with,” Hokanson.
The teenager had undergone several “complex surgeries” prescribed by Tufts Medical Center, before being admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital for the flu. The new team of doctors which drastically changed her diagnosis reportedly continue to claim that the parents are “overmedicalizing” their daughter’s care. But all of the medicines were prescribed by doctors.
Lou and Linda Pelletier will be back in court on December 5 fighting to regain custody of their daughter. What do you think about the case?