The Rare But Potentially Fatal Abuse Nobody Cares About

I don’t know if you heard the story, but in a past year, Boston Children’s Hospital suffered a lot of backlash after flagging a case as medical child abuse, which would result in the state taking the child away.  I read a post that Boston Children’s wrote addressing the issue, and the comments were flooded with harsh negativity. People said they were awful, cruel, and despicable doctors trying to rip a child away from their parents.

Is that what people think? Do people automatically assume the parents have done no harm and that the person taking their child away from their abusive custody is cruel? The case was difficult because medical child abuse is probably the easiest to cover up, and it is the least looked for abuse in children.

The case all started when Justina Pelletier, a 14 year old girl, was brought in by her parents to Boston for the treatment of mitochondrial disease. Mitochondrial disease is not very common, it’s symptoms are not very unique, and it is potentially fatal if left untreated. The problem wasn’t only that it’s difficult to diagnose, but no formal test was done, called the “hallmark of mitochondrial disorders” by the diagnosing Doctor from Tufts Mark Korson. Besides the sketchy lack of tests and research done into her symptoms, mitochondrial disease is known as the go-to disease to medical child abusers.

For not having a clear and confirmed diagnosis, it’s important to note that prior to this, she already faced extreme surgeries. The 14 year old, never tested for a disease, already had a permanent port surgically implanted into her stomach to flush out her digestive system, a common problem of those suffering child medical abuse. Many were upset about the stance Boston Children’s took on the child’s case, including the original diagnostician, saying they’re extremely intrusive.

They pulled the child away from her parents, the accused abusers, and prevented contact from them. What may seem extreme to the outside, how would you feel if it were a confirmed medical abuse case? You’d be praising the doctors for stepping in and insuring the safety of that child, while still working to get her well.

All abuse is important, and any suspicions should always be reported. Nothing is more painful than a child stuck in an abusive home.