On Valentine's Day 2013, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families took into emergency custody then-14-year-old Justina Pelletier because the doctors at Tufts Medical Center and doctors at Boston Children's Hospital collided over the diagnosis of her rare medical condition. But when medical egos and battles lead to a child's being torn from her parents by judges ruling on dubious grounds, isn't it time to confess that something is seriously askew in society and even under the stethoscope?
Fox News recently summarized the 15-month custody catastrophe by explaining that Tufts was originally treating Justina for a rare mitochondrial disease affecting cellular energy production. When gastrointestinal problems complicated her ailments, Tufts' doctors referred her to Boston Children's Hospital. But those doctors diagnosed her instead with somatoform disorder -- a psychological condition that has no known physical origin.
Justina's parents immediately rejected the new psychiatric diagnosis and let their grievances be known to the Boston Children's Hospital personnel. But rather than console and work with the parents, the staff called in the state, which in turn accused the parents of medical child abuse.
Justina was held captive for nearly a year in a psychiatric ward for children before being transported to a Wayside Youth & Family Support Network facility. In March, a juvenile court judge reprimanded the parents for verbal assault and abuse. But Justina's parents cried foul, claiming the judge ignored Tufts' standing medical testimony that their daughter's diagnosis was in fact mitochondrial disease.
Fox News further reported this past week that after being held for 15 months by the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Justina was moved to a facility in her own state of Connecticut. Ironically, that transfer came a day after her family was denied a visit with her in the previous facility on Mother's Day.
Justina's father told Fox News that the new facility is "only 15 minutes closer" than the Massachusetts complex and that it was "just a lateral move." Her parents went on to say the move was "not at all meant as a step toward regaining custody," which a judge will ultimately decide. They called the whole hospital-state fiasco with their child "barbaric."
Since the whole custody tragedy began, Justina's parents have been granted only hourly visits each week. And throughout it all, Justina hasn't attended school or church and, most heartbreaking of all, has been kept from the security, safety and loving warmth of her own family, home and bed. Is it any wonder why her condition continues to deteriorate?