Lou Pelletier, the father of a 15-year-old currently being held by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families at Boston Children’s Hospital, claimed today that “progress is being made” in he and his wife Linda’s efforts to regain custody of their daughter Justina.
Justina’s case is a strange and complicated story of government intervention and hospital influence over a family’s medical decisions.
Last February, Justina was diagnosed at Tufts Medical Center in Boston with a rare genetic disease called mitochondrial disorder. According to the West Hartford News, the Pelletiers arranged for Justina to receive treatment for the disorder at Boston Children’s Hospital. Doctors at that hospital, however, claimed that mitochondrial disorder does not exist. Instead, they diagnosed her with somatoform disorder, a mental illness that leads to the manifestation of physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal pain.
When the Pelletiers attempted to remove Justina from Boston Children’s Hospital and transfer her back to Tuft’s, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families refused to allow them, accusing them of medical child abuse. Despite protests from the Pelletiers as well as the general public, the girl has been held in the psychiatric ward of the hospital, called Bader 5, ever since.
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The Pelletiers had a hearing regarding their daughter at a juvenile court today, but they were unable to comment on the hearing’s outcome due to a judge’s gag order on the case.
According to the West Hartford Patch, however, sources close to the family claimed that Justina is soon to be scheduled to be transferred back to Tufts Medical Center, the hospital where she originally received the diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder.
No official report of Justina’s release from Bader 5 has been confirmed, but her transferral to Tuft’s would signify one small victory for a family entangled in a series of lengthy and complex legal and medical battles.