Teen in Mass. medical dispute heads to foster care
Boston Children’s Hospital doctors believe Justina Pelletier’s disorder is mental, not medical.
A Connecticut teenager at the center of a yearlong medical dispute and custody battle involving two major hospitals and the state of Massachusetts reportedly was headed to foster care Monday despite her parents’ objections, according to news reports.
Justina Pelletier’s mother fainted after a closed court hearing in Boston and was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital. She was expected to be released later Monday, the head of a Christian group aiding the family told the Boston Globe, which has written in-depth about the case. A gag order prevents her parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier, of West Hartford, Conn., from talking to the media about the case.
The Pelletiers have been fighting to regain custody of their 15-year-old daughter since February 2013, when she was taken to the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital for treatment of a mitochondrial disorder, which doctors at Tufts Medical Center had diagnosed two years earlier. But Boston Children’s doctors rejected the diagnosis, declaring her ailment was psychosomatic and then placing her in a psychiatric ward, where she remained until she was moved to a state residential facility last month.
The Massachusetts Department of Child Services, which took control of Justina after Boston Children’s reported suspicions of medical child abuse, asked Monday to place her in a foster home in Boston within 48 hours, and the judge granted the request, WBZ-TV reported.
“My understanding is that Justina is being moved to foster care and they are outraged by that,” the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, head of the Christian Defense Coalition, which is aiding the Pelletiers, said outside the courtroom, the Hartford Courant reported. “There is no medical care there.”
Justina’s father said her condition is “rapidly declining” — her legs and stomach are swollen and she cannot walk.
“The legal tiddlywinks they’re playing with my daughter’s life is disgusting,” he said.
Another hearing is scheduled for March 17.