As we reported last year, Boston’s Children’s Hospital took custody of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier against her parents’ will. The hospital has maintained custody of the child for over one year now.
Years ago, doctors diagnosed Justina with mitochondrial disease, which causes loss of muscle control. Despite this diagnosis, Justina was able to live a happy and relatively normal life with her family in Connecticut. She was very active and enjoyed various sports such as ice skating.
When she got the flu last February, she was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital. Doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital claimed that Justina has somatoform disorder, not mitochondrial disease. Somatoform disorder is a mental disorder — not a physical one, like mitochondrial disease.
After this diagnosis was made, the girl’s parents wanted to bring their daughter home — but officials would not allow that. Lou and Linda Pelletier were escorted out of the hospital by security personnel.
Only four days later, they found out they had lost custody of their daughter due to “both parents’ resistance towards recommended treatment plans.” They are heartbroken and furious.
Lou and Linda insist that they were never “resistant” towards treatment for Justina. They had closely followed medical procedures and medication dosages for their daughter, as recommended by her physicians.
“It is kidnapping,” Lou Pelletier said.
Although Boston Children’s Hospital still maintains custody of Justina, the teen was recently moved into a residential facility at Wayside Youth and Family Support Network in Framingham, Connecticut.
Justina’s parents are currently using legal action to take back custody of their daughter. On Tuesday in court, Lou said the longer Justina stays in the custody of Boston Children’s Hospital, the worse her condition gets. A year ago, Justina was competing in figure skating competitions — now, she is paralyzed from the waist down and is not receiving any schooling.
The custody hearing was delayed until February 13 and the judge placed a gag order on everyone involved.
Dr. Mark Korson of Tufts Medical Center was one of Justina’s prior physicians. In an email, he said, “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.”
During her time at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, Justina has sent letters to her parents hidden in origami artwork. One of her notes said, “I know you trust in me. Don’t forget it. I love you more than everything in the whole world. Justina.”
According to FOXCT, The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) has set guidelines for Justina’s parents, dictating when they can and cannot see their daughter. Currently, the parents are allowed two short phone calls and one hour-long visit per week.
Justina’s parents say they will continue fighting to regain custody of their child.
“Hospitals, be it this scenario or big picture, cannot just hide behind DCF to do their dirty work. It’s beyond any wildest nightmare that you could think of,” Lou said.