Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Munchausen syndrome by proxy

A Texas mother is in jail after hospital staff sounded alarm over a boy who had been seen 323 times at various medical centers and undergone 13 major surgeries in his eight years of life. Kaylene Bowen, who has allegedly previously claimed her son was dying of a genetic disease, fighting cancer and suffering from several other ailments over his lifetime, was arrested on a warrant accusing her of injury to a child with serious bodily injury, The Star-Telegram reported.

Bowen, 34, remains in Dallas County Jail while the boy, whose name is Christopher, and his two half-siblings have been placed in foster care. The boy’s father, Ryan Crawford, said he’s tried alerting authorities to Bowen’s actions previously, but was shut down by courts who sided with her.

“It was always the same story: Christopher is dying,” Crawford told The Star-Telegram. “The father doesn’t need to be around because he doesn’t know how to take care of him. Every time I went to court, they made me feel like I was the worst human ever.”

According to a Child Protective Services petition, Christopher was seen 323 times at hospitals and pediatric centers in Dallas and Houston between 2009 and 2016, The Star-Telegram reported. At various points, he was placed on oxygen fulltime, used a wheelchair, and was outfitted with a feeding tube that lead to life-threatening blood infections. Court documents revealed that Bowen placed Christopher in hospice care, and tried to have him placed on a lung transplant list.

“It’s horrible for my son, or any kid because obviously my son is not the only one that has had to go through this type of torture,” Crawford told The Star-Telegram. “The system has to be exposed – all the weaknesses that are in the system – because the kids don’t deserve that.”

Hospital staff sounded alarm with CPS after discovering that Christopher did not have cancer, or any of the alleged symptoms Bowen had listed. She had claimed that Christopher suffered a seven-minute seizure, but an ECG showed no such activity, The Star-Telegram reported. Staff reached out to another hospital that had treated Christopher and found there were similar suspicions about Bowen. A complaint was filed, marking the second such since 2015.

“I am very concerned that mother has moved from exaggerating symptoms to inducing symptoms,” Dr. Suzanne Dakil wrote, as part of a CPS petition for removal, according to the news outlet. “If mother has given Chris something to induce a seizure, this is potentially fatal. At this point I am very concerned for his welfare.”

While not formally diagnosed, Bowen’s actions are similar to those of others who suffer from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The condition occurs when a person attempts to produce psychological or physical symptoms in another person, usually someone who is dependent on them. Several factors, including who is describing the patient’s symptoms, can make it difficult for doctors to spot the disorder.

Over the years, Bowen was soliciting money from supporters through a YouCaring page and other fundraising efforts. One page claimed the boy had been diagnosed with Arteriovenous malformation at age 2, and had raised more than $8,000.

Crawford is currently seeking to obtain custody of Christopher, who has since been taken off the feeding tube and is eating regularly.

Even before the birth of their son, Ryan Crawford suspected that something was wrong with the boy’s mother.

A pregnant Kaylene Bowen would call Crawford in the middle of the night from random hospitals, reporting that she had been admitted for various reasons. Once, she claimed she’d had a fever of 110 degrees for seven consecutive days, Crawford said.

Crawford began to wonder if this woman he’d dated briefly and unexpectedly impregnated, was just trying to gain attention.

But it was nothing compared to the tales that Crawford says Bowen would tell after the premature birth of their son, Christopher, who was born after 33 weeks in April 2009. 

“She was always saying Christopher was sick. Every single week. Every single month,” Crawford said. “She would always say, ‘Something’s wrong. He has this. He has that.’ ”

Between 2009 and 2016, medical records show Christopher was seen 323 times at hospitals and pediatric centers in Dallas and Houston and underwent 13 major surgeries, according to a Child Protective Services petition.

Throughout his young life, Christopher has been placed full time on oxygen and, at times, used a wheelchair. He’s endured invasive procedures and surgeries, including being fitted with a feeding tube that fed directly into his small intestine and led to multiple life-threatening blood infections.

His mother had even tried to get him on the lung transplant list and had previously had him in hospice care, court documents state.

For years, Crawford said he tried to convince Dallas County family court judges that his son was not sick but they believed Bowen, who would eventually claim that their son was dying, initially from a rare genetic disorder and later from cancer.

Crawford said a Dallas County judge even blocked him in late 2012 from visiting his son, who was then 3.

“It was always the same story: Christopher is dying. The father doesn’t need to be around because he doesn’t know to take care of him,” a tearful Bowen would tell the judges, according to Crawford.


1 comment:

  1. Dakil says Bowen-Wright provided different information to different providers, reported medical problems never witnessed by medical professionals and refused to comply with medical recommendations that would have resulted in less invasive medical interventions, such as feeding tubes.

    After his 2015 release from Dallas Children’s, Bowen-Wright transferred him to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston but refused to provide them medical records from Children’s Medical Center of Dallas. The cycle of medical testing began anew, the warrant says.

    On Nov. 9, Bowen-Wright brought Christopher to Children’s Hospital in Dallas. She claimed he was suffering from seizures, according to the CPS affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram.
    Doctors could find no seizure activity on the EKG. But medical staff saw what appeared to be “whole body jerking,” Dakil wrote.

    “I am very concerned that mother has moved from exaggerating symptoms to inducing symptoms,” she wrote. “If mother has given Chris something to induce a seizure, this is potentially fatal.”

    Doctors told her she needed to wean Christopher off of some of his medications and medical equipment. She refused their requests, according to the CPS affidavit.

    After doctors in Dallas consulted with their Houston counterparts, they reported their concerns to CPS.

    “Christopher’s history provided verbally by Ms. Kaylene Bowen paints a picture of a very sick child,” the CPS investigator wrote in the affidavit. “The doctors do not find Christopher to be sick. Ms. Bowen has Christopher on oxygen, yet Christopher is fine without oxygen. Christopher is able to eat normally and does not need a feeding tube.”

    On Nov. 10, the investigator interviewed Bowen-Wright at her home. She told the investigator that she did not work because she stays at home to care for Christopher. She told him she was on food stamps, Medicaid, and received an SSI check for Christopher.

    She denied giving her child too much medication. She stated she "does not see what’s wrong in wanting to take care of her child and make sure he has the best doctors that they can offer him,” the affidavit says.

    She denied refusing to let doctors test and conduct blood work on him.

    When the caseworker asked to see Christopher, the boy jumped to the bottom from the fourth step, the investigator reported.

    Medical experts reviewed records stating back to 2009 detailing the unnecessary care. Among them, he had a central line placed by his heart that was not needed. He also had an unnecessary feeding tube of the most invasive type as it goes into his small intestine rather than his stomach.

    On one fundraising website, Bowen-Wright claimed that he had a rare congenital condition that prevented the delivery of “oxygen-rich blood through his body."

    When he was taken from this mother’s care, he was on an IV and oxygen, the warrant says. He was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Dallas. He soon began eating normally and was taken off oxygen. Doctors also reported that he was having no issues with seizures or fatigue.

    Crawford has seen his son twice since he was put in foster care.

    “He looked as if nothing had ever happened to him,” he says. “He’s a blessing. God has watched over him.”

    Crawford is fighting to get his son back. He is in the process of trying to hire an attorney to help him, but he knows he could be in for an expensive fight. Crawford’s co-workers have set up a GoFundMe to help him.

    “Out of everything that has happened, the worst thing you can do is put my children in foster care with strangers,” he says. “I need my son in my life and my son needs me in [his] life.”

    He believes money was Bowen-Wright's motivation, and he wants her to go prison for life.

    “Obviously, she was living life for free and off my son,” he says.

    Crawford blames the system – the judges, the doctors, and CPS – who he says failed to keep his son from eight years of misery that he never should have had to endure.