Wednesday, December 2, 2015

How the State of Oregon Kidnapped Our Son

Unexplained Injury

On November 8th, 2011 we noticed my son was feeling some pain and was running a low grade fever (100.2° F). I was concerned so I called an advice nurse that my wife's insurance provided. The nurse on the line was very polite and recommended that we go to the ER because my son was only five weeks old. Her concern was that at that age a fever could mean something was seriously wrong and we needed to have it examined.

The First Hospital 

We went to the local hospital in our home town to see a doctor there. Upon arrival the triage nurse performed her introductory evaluation, noting that there were "no bruises, swelling, or any external abnormalities" while also noting that "all four extremities are moving strongly and equally.

We were brought to a room in the ER where a doctor performed a number of tests. This included a hip flexing check and saw that the legs were pulled up tightly towards the abdomen. He explained that sometimes when babies have abdominal pain they'll pull their legs in tightly. While the doctor manipulated my son's legs he let out a very loud scream, quite unlike we had heard before. This was very different than the experience with the triage nurse just minutes before.

The doctor ordered an x-ray to view my son's abdomen and hips. The doctor's belief was that their could possible be an obstruction in my son's intestines causing the pain. 

The X-Ray Technician

My wife needed to return home at this point. In our haste to get to the ER we had forgotten to bring a change of clothes and diapers, and while there our son soiled his outfit. I stayed and the x-ray technician came in to take a number of images. At one point while we were moving my son the x-ray technician looked at me in a confused way and asked if the doctor had mentioned anything about my son's left leg. I replied that he hadn't other than a possible abdominal issue. 

The technician left after taking his initial x-rays, and came back half an hour later. He was told to take specific pictures of the leg. He then came in again one more time after another half an hour to take a clearer picture of the leg. My wife had returned at this point and the Doctor came in and told us that our son had a spiral femur fracture (We later learned that it was actually an oblique fracture and not a spiral). The doctor informed us that as protocol he had to notify the authorities and an investigation would take place. (It was also noted that he had gaseous distention from the x-rays)

The First Police Office

We spoke to the police officer that came to see us and explained that there hadn't been anything traumatic that happened. Nobody dropped him, no one fell with him, nothing happened. While we spoke to the police officer we mentioned we came in because our son was having abdominal pain, thought to be bad gas, and a low grade fever. We mentioned that he had no bruises (which was confirmed by a nurse that was in the room at the time) and we told him we had no idea there was a fracture. Our son hadn't screamed in pain as he did until the doctor manipulated his leg.

My son was only mildly more fussy than normal prior to our visit, and as young parents we thought that as long as he was eating he was okay. The night before we also noticed a fever and we went to the store so he could have baby Tylenol and Gripe Water (Natural medicine to reduce gas). This seemed to work as it lowered his temp and calmed him down.

The Children's Hospital

The Children's Hospital was notified. Their EMT crew and a pediatrician arrived and wrapped up my son's leg. My son was transferred to the Children's Hospital in an ambulance with my wife. I had to run home and pick up some things for my son, and then I drove out there myself. 

While in the ambulance, my wife was able to hear a pediatrician and an EMT discuss that they thought this was clearly abuse and that it was only protocol to bring a parent. When they arrived at the Children's Hospital a complete trauma workup was performed on my son. It was noted again that there were no bruises, swelling, lesions, abrasions, and that my son was content beyond his leg. It was noted that my son had extra cartilage on his skull but it was not trauma related, and I remember wondering what that meant. My son showed no symptoms of being in any pain or distress, though he did have a low grade fever. 

My wife had been advised to ask the ER doctor what could cause such injuries in an infant. She was rudely told that "It was either child abuse or you're lying (about there being no accident).

My son was sent to have a head CT done immediately. His results came back perfectly normal. There was no bleeding on the brain, no hemorrhaging, no skull fractures, or signs of trauma. My wife requested that a new doctor be placed with our son after the encounter with the previous doctor, and was given an advanced resident to look over our son. A full blood workup was run, including a spinal tap, to check for infection because of his low grade fever. My son, minus the blood drawing, remained content, fed well, and soothed easily. It was very hard for the doctors to draw blood from our son, and it took quite a lot of time for them to finally get anything, causing my son great pain in the process. On the spinal tap, one of the residents missed the spinal fluid and hit a vein, causing blood to become mixed in with the spinal fluid. They also took new x-rays while in the Children's Hospital ER. Even after taking the blood, a number of tests were lost or not valid. 

The Inpatient Room

We were eventually moved to an inpatient room. They tried to draw more blood during the night, but they didn't tell us what the blood was being drawn for. We were also informed not to feed our son throughout the night so they could reset the bone, and he cried through the night in hunger pains. We followed the directions we were given. Despite all this, he wasn't given any medication because he was still soothing himself. The room was very cold at night, yet my son maintained a high temperature and was even sweating. None of the nurses adjusted the temperature at night, nor did they tell us how. 

In the morning a new nurse came in and said my wife could feed our son. They took a full skeletal survey in the morning where they noted a number of fractures. These inculded:

  • An acute left femoral diaphysis angulated oblique fracture, 
  • Age-indeterminate bilateral distal femoral, 
  • Probable left and right proximal tibia metaphyseal corner fractures, 
  • Probable age-indeterminate left proximal humeral metaphyseal corner fracture, 
  • Probable partially healed proximal right tibia and fibula fracture, 
  • And healing bilateral rib fractures (Probably three). 
Note, the only fully confirmed fracture has been the left femur fracture and an age-indeterminate posterior rib fracture. This is also the point where they say it was on oblique fracture and not a spiral. A doctor came in to look at my son's eyes. She saw no retinal hemorrhaging, but noticed a mild discoloration in his eyes. She called in a superior who also noted that there was nothing wrong with his eyes, but that he did have mild discoloration. Again, My son was only 5 weeks old at the time. 

My son had seen many different doctors in this time, all noting that he look healthy an happy. My son had been in for a 1 week check, 2 week check, at about 3 1/2 weeks he was circumcised, he had visited the hospital twice because he was jaundice, and my wife's midwife had also seen him during one of her post birth visits the day before we went to the hospital.

They attempted to draw more blood, and continued to be unsuccessful, taking a full second day to gather the blood needed to send out for the Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) test and a few other tests regarding bone health. He was still on no medication until they decided to put an IV in his head where they used morphine. They took an abdominal CT because my son had high liver enzymes, but his CT came back perfectly normal. He was put into a Pavlik harness to help heal his femur fracture. 

The State Intervenes

A Child Protective Services (CPS) worker, a detective, and a police captain interviewed me, my wife, and my wife's parents. They agreed that everything we have said had been consistent. There hasn't been any trauma, and certainly no outward signs abuse. The police never filed criminal charges.

We had to appear in court for an emergency hearing as requested by CPS. I had already obtained a lawyer but my wife hadn't had time yet. During the hearing the judge seemed to want to give us both of our children back. But CPS boldly lied and said there was liver damage and stated that all fractures were fact, rather than possibilities. The judge reluctantly had our son put into a "Medical" foster home, while allowing us to keep our daughter (As long as we were in sight and sound of Linda's parents with our daughter).

At 3 Months

CPS continued to hold our son, and was attacking our parenting skills and the well being of both of our children. We had 3 1-hour visits a week with our son, and during that last month we discovered that our son now had an umbilical hernia (which may have been developing while he was still with us). We asked CPS to take our son to see a doctor, but they informed us they had another appointment set up for his two month check and will have it looked at than. 

We have since discovered that our son does have low calcium, low vitamin D, high alkaline phosphatase. We have looked into many different possibilities, including OI, Rickets, Temporary Brittle Bone Disease (TBBD), and other diseases that could have caused this. The OI test came back negative, but there are other options, but at this time it was very difficult to have our son tested. 

Back in the Womb

My wife had a rough pregnancy because of his size. We discovered that she has a retroverted uterus. This made our son's birth even tougher. He was born at 41 5/7 weeks by induction with pitocin. My son had severe shoulder dystocia during birth, and had an initial APGAR score of 3, taking a full minute to even breath. During the later stages of pregnancy my son was unable to move much, but certainly was noticeable due to his large size. My son only moved at night when my wife was able to lay flat, especially during the third trimester. His birth weight was 9lbs 7oz and 21 1/2 inches. 

The Judicial Hearing

We started the Judicial Hearing Process on January 5th, 2011. The hearings were held on the 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 18th. One of the worst problems with this process is that it is held in the Juvenile Courts, and rather than using "Beyond a reasonable doubt" they use "Preponderance of Evidence" which refers to balancing the evidence (50/50), and whichever side is over the 50% mark wins the case. 

We clearly should have had more than enough evidence to prove that we had not abused our son. Firstly, it was made clear that the hospital had lost blood tests, including a very important vitamin D, phosphorus, ionized calcium, and the PTH tests, all vital for diagnosing Rickets. They also noted elevated liver enzymes related to bone breaks which were elevated even higher after our son was in foster care, after declining to a normal level at the hospital

The Expert and the Villain

We had hired Dr. David Ayoub to testify about what he saw from the x-ray and CT images. He testified that he could see from the radiological evidence that our son had neonatal rickets. Dr. Ayoub even had images taken directly from My son's X-rays and CT scans to show these signs. 

The state provided numerous medical witnesses, and each of these witnesses, except Dr. Villain (A Child abuse Expert who has been certified by American Board of Pediatrics, Child Abuse Pediatrics since 2009), had admitted that if our son had a medical condition of bone fragility that it could explain his fractures. It was also noted that our son had no bleeding on the brain, no subdural bleeding, no retinal hemorrhaging, no bruising, no swelling, no internal organ damage, no brain damage, no cuts or lesions, and no tissue damage. The only thing noted were the unexplained bone fractures without local tissue trauma. 

It was even noted in court that there was very likely a new rib fracture after our son was placed in foster care. There was even a physician's assistant who noted that if our son did have bone fragility he himself could have accidentally broken our son's ribs during a routine well baby check. 

The ER doctor who saw our son when we brought him to the hospital still can't give a clear answer about whether or not he broke our son's femur, and when asked on the stand said "I don't believe I did." rather than a simple yes or no. The pediatrician who is currently seeing our son was even confused why they were calling this abuse when there clearly were other things that needed to be looked at first, and recommended that our son see and endocrinologist and geneticist. 

There were two doctors who testified that the obvious fact that all of the normal signs of abuse were missing meant it was unlikely to be abuse when evaluating the differential diagnosis. 

The State recalled two of their medical witnesses to discredit Dr. Ayoub's work simply because his current study hadn't been published in a peer reviewed journal yet. Dr. Villain (who had never actually seen our son, nor viewed his full medical history) claimed that he didn't care if our son had a medical condition. He (in a very belligerent attitude)believed that this was abuse anyways, and would not be convinced otherwise.

The Judge's Ruling

So the Judge erred on the side of caution and adjudicated my wife and I of abusing our son. We we able to keep our daughter home with us, because she was in perfect health. He even stated that we should bring new medical evidence to him should we have any.

We tried to have CPS take our son to specialist to evaluate him, and the judge even order them to do it. This never happened. We fought for our innocence, and after 17 month we got our son back. The verdict hadn't changed, but the judge had decided that we were trustworthy enough to have our son back.

The new evidence

In 2013 we finally had the opportunity to have our son evaluated by a endocrinologist at the very same children's hospital. They thought the situation was very odd. While they found no endocrine problems, they suggest that our son be evaluated for Ehlers-Danlos with a geneticist.

We finally were able to see the very busy geneticist in 2014, and they said that our son clearly has Ehlers-Danlos type-III (Hypermobility). We were told that his was very likely the reason our son was injured without a traumatic accident. We thought that it was great to finally know what we as a family were dealing with. The syndrome isn't life threatening for our son, but it isn't a simple disorder either. He deals with fatigue and soreness frequently.

We haven't been able to return to court, because it is very difficult to find an attorney who wants to reopen finished cases.

We didn't abuse our son, and they shouldn't be able to take our son like this without reasonable cause. 

Our story has been passed on, and we hope people continue to share it. So please repost and spread the word about this huge injustice to all your friends and family. This isn't about just our family anymore. This scenario is happening over and over again all across the country and internationally. So please share this story, it may help a family be saved.