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Protest Planned to Fight Hospital’s ‘Kidnapping’ of West Hartford Girl [Updated]

Justina Pelletier has been held by Boston Children's Hospital against her parents' will for nearly 10 months.

Update: Boston Children's Hospital has issued the following statement:

Our staff are caring and supportive professionals who aim to provide the best and most appropriate care for each and every child, regardless of diagnosis.  We believe in a multi-disciplinary, family-centered approach to care, and we do our utmost to support patients and their families.  The Hospital is not the custodian or the legal guardian of the patients in its care, nor is it affiliated with any state agency.   As a matter of policy, Boston Children’s is unable to comment publicly on specific patient care matters or on any situation in which state child protective services is involved.

Original story: A protest at a Massachusetts court is planned for Dec. 5 in hopes of bringing a West Hartford girl home from Boston Children’s Hospital, where her parents say she has been held hostage against their will for 10 months.

The hospital refused to allow the girl, 15-year-old Justina Pelletier, to leave after her parents brought her in with a case of the flu. Justina had been diagnosed and treated by Tufts doctors for Mitochondrial Disorder, a rare genetic disease. On Feb. 10 her doctor was unavailable and sent her to Boston Children’s Hospital. 

But the hospital told Justina’s parents, Lou and Linda Pelletier, that Mitochondrial Disease, which Justina’s 25-year-old sister is also being treated for, does not exist, Pelletier told the Daily Mail. Instead, hospital doctors diagnosed the teen with Somatoform Disorder, a mental illness characterized by pain and gastrointestinal symptoms that have no identifiable physical cause.

The hospital escorted the Pelletiers out of the hospital, according to a FOX CT report, took Justina off the medications prescribed by her doctors and took custody of her, refusing to let her parents take her for a second opinion or scheduled visit with her regular doctor.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families took custody of the girl and now limits the Pelletier’s contact with Justina to just one hour a week, with two 20-minute phone calls (which are monitored by hospital staff).  Justina is also not allowed to be alone with her parents. Orders, pictured on the Daily Mail, were given to prohibit a second opinion being sought and to limit the number of doctors working on Justina’s case. 

Now, 10 months later, Justina is locked in a psychiatric ward and unable to leave. When she entered, she was able to walk, ice skate for hours and hike with her dog. She loved school and pedicures with her sister, according to the Daily Mail article. 

Now, Justina is too weak to stand, is listless and depressed and has been told by hospital staff that she will never leave, her older sister Jennifer said. Those symptoms, which the hospital is citing as proof of the Somatoform have been created by the hospital, she said.

Justina’s story has gained international attention, first on FOX CT, Yahoo Parenting in Australia, then on The Blaze, with Glenn Beck bringing attention to it as well.

On the Glenn Beck show, parent and activist Beth Maloney said that many parents with children diagnosed of Mitochondriac Disorders have been accused of Munchausen By Proxy – making their children sick.

A gag issue has been issued by the court in the case, preventing the Pelletiers and the hospital from speaking about the case.

Maloney said she knows of two other cases where the parents are under gag orders in similar cases with Boston Children’s Hospital.

The hospital also seized custody of Elizabeth Wray, a teen diagnosed with PANDAS, an autoimmune disorder. A protest was held for Wray, who was held for 10 months and released to her parents in August 2013.

Maloney has asserted, and Justina’s doctor, Tufts Medical Center specialist Dr. Mark Korson has been quoted as saying the hospital is “out to prove the diagnosis at all costs.”

Her father is quoted as saying Justina, who is being treated by a team specializing in Somatoform Disorder, is just using her as a guinea pig.

The Pelletiers' next custody appearance is Dec. 5.

A Facebook page called A Miracle for Justina is hereA petition with more than 1,000 signatures is on Change.org asking for Justina's release.

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