The anti-vaccine Canadian parents of a 19-month-old boy are on trial for his death after they gave him home remedies for an illness that eventually claimed his life.
When David and Collet Stephan's son Ezekiel became ill, they allegedly refused to take him to a doctor, The Washington Post reports. Instead, they gave him home remedies, such as smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish, onion and apple cider vinegar.
A family friend and nurse told the couple that Ezekiel needed to see a doctor because he could have viral meningitis, the Lethbridge Herald reports.
Collet instead used the symptom checker on WebMD to research viral meningitis and found that most people, even without specific therapy, recover from the illness.
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The couple then took Ezekiel to a naturopath for Echinacea, an herb believed to jump-start the immune system, The Washington Post reports.
The next day Ezekiel was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing.
He died from bacterial meningitis and empyema.
Antibiotics could have saved his life.
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Ezekiel died four years ago, and one year after his death the Stephans were charged with failing to provide the necessities of life to their son.
“There’s nothing in the world that will bring him back,” David told The Calgary Herald after the charges were made. “What good could possibly come out of this? What could possibly be worse than the suffering we’ve endured for the past year?”
The Stephans contend that they believed Ezekiel’s flu-like symptoms were from a minor case of croup, which is why he was cared for at home and not by a doctor.
“If there’s any insinuation that they were withholding care from the child, it’s absolutely wrong," Anthony Stephan, David's father said. "If they took a look at our records with Alberta health care, they’re going to see that we use the system."
“This is something that the family missed, no question. It wasn’t a question of avoidance at all,” he added.
The trial for the couple just started, but If convicted, then they may spend up to five years in prison.