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Parents Arrested for Trying to Take Sick Baby to Another Hospital

by Jeanne Sager on December 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM

baby in hospitalWhat's the scariest thing you can imagine as a parent. How about sitting, day after day, in a hospital at your baby's bedside? April Saul and Danny Rivera have watched their 3-month-old daughter lie in a NICU, hooked up to monitors, ever since she was born. Now they're facing criminal charges for unhooking their daughter, loading her in their car, and taking off for another hospital where they say there is a specialist who could help her.

Saul and Rivera are facing charges of endangering the welfare of children and disorderly conduct for their grab and run with their own daughter, and little Aralynn is back in the NICU at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It's one of those bizarre cases where right and wrong have come together and become so tangled, it's hard to tell which way is up.

Were they wrong to move their little girl? Probably. The folks at Lehigh Valley say they've been in contact with the specialists at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and they would like to transfer Aralynn there for treatment for her heart defect, but she is not yet medically capable of making the trip. They didn't want the girl's parents to take her out of the hospital because they say it's too dangerous.

More from The Stir: Sick 23-Month-Old Dies After Waiting More Than an Hour to See Doctor -- Despite Dad's Pleas

I was raised by a nurse practitioner, so I tend to listen to medical professionals.

On the other hand, how long do you feel helpless as a parent before you act? We live in a country where we are lucky to have a pretty decent medical system, but unless you are part of the medical establishment, it's a maze for the layperson to navigate. Patient advocates exist, but they're not always the most helpful people on Earth.

What really drives that home is Saul's statement to the press after her arrest on the way out of town:

We felt like we were backed into a corner, we had no recourse and we were given no other option. We are Aralynn's advocates. If we don't advocate for optimum health care for her, who will? That's a parent's responsibility.

She's absolutely right. If we don't fight for the very best care for our kids, who will? Certainly not some health insurance company.

If you aren't intimately familiar with medical jargon as a parent, you are forced to simply trust that the people at the hospital are "doing the right thing" with your kids. But when your child doesn't get any better and doesn't get any better and doesn't get any better, something has to give.

Parents need to know that a hospital is on their child's side. When they don't feel that way, they need to have options. We need to be able to advocate for our kids, to have our voices heard.

Do you feel any sympathy for these parents?
 

Image via flash.pro/Flickr

Filed Under: baby health

Comments

90
  • Billi...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Billie Jo Evans

    December 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    I think it's wonderful that these parents refuse to give up on their daughter, I do however believe the hospital must transfer the child to another hospital per the parents request. If they haven't been able to help the poor infant it IS the parent's responsibility to find someone who can help. I side with the parents on this one.


  • Flori...
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    Floridamom96

    December 11, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    This is outrageous! Medical professionals have no business making decisions for children or overriding a child's parents. It is absolutely disgusting that these parents are being charged with anything! Is the child a ward of the hospital now? It was far more harmful for these people to fight the parents every step of the way than it is for the parents to seek better care for their daughter. How on earth, in anyone's world, is it ok for a hospital, medical staff, and law enforcement to decide what medical treatment this child receives and where she will receive it? And to criminalize the parents attempts to save their baby's life? All the people involved in stopping this family from choosing their own medical facility have severely overstepped their bounds and deserve public condemnation! It is impossible for me to convey over the internet how very, very outraged I am by this!


  • dirti...
    --

    dirtiekittie

    December 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    i can understand that helpless feeling... watching that child lay there and not being able to do anything to help... your mind races with all the possibilities as you try and convince yourself that you really aren't completely useless here. i went through that with my daughter last year and i wouldn't wish it on anyone. if my child hadn't already been at the best hospital for her care at the time, i can absolutely see how i would have contemplated taking her elsewhere. while medical staff may know the 'jargon', we are still these little children's guardians, and should be number one guardians. my heart goes out to the family, and as long as the baby was not hurt any worse from the trip, i don't see any reason for arrests & charges. 


  • kelli...
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    kelli0585

    December 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    I feel sympathy.  While I may not have ripped the monitors out and ran, I can understand their frustration.

    Oh.  And the baby DID end up at Children's Hospital like the parents wanted, afterall.  And why was this such a problem before?  Maybe this is what it took. 


  • Gretta
    -- Nonmember comment from

    Gretta

    December 11, 2012 at 12:37 PM
    Seems like a total breakdown in communication if it got this far.
  • corri...
    --

    corrinacs

    December 11, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Yes, I very much do feel sympathy.  I have had this happen before, but luckily it wasn't him in the hospital.  But doctors just sometimes don't know the answers and they keep giving you the run-around.  I've had to get tons of "second opinions" on my chidlren.  I even got down right nasty a few times.  My kids are sick, and they would say "there's nothing wrong".......finally got answers and guess what?  PROGRESS!  Keep fighting for your kids!!!


  • AdryF
    --

    AdryF

    December 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM
    I can't believe that they are being charged with anything! They were trying ti help THEIR CHILD! I could see if they were going to take her home, but they were taking her to a better hospital. That is crazy. They are the parents, their choice.
  • lulou
    --

    lulou

    December 11, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Torn on this one, plus even with reading the linked article, probably dont have a lot of the story.  Being a parent of a preemie who spent 3 weeks in the NICU, I can somewhat understand the parents side.  We were lucky to have our baby at one of the world's top hospitals for neonatology and ended up witht the last spot in the NICU ($90,000 for 3 weeks) and never questioned the care.  And know many wait months and months to get appointments there.   So while frustrating many things, a spot may not have been available, spots may have been lined up for more serious cases, or like they said, the baby wasnt well enough to be transported.  Who knows if the medicaid issue was a factor, but I wouldnt doubt that either.  I cant choose my own medical facility and have my insurance cover it.  I could and pay out of pocket, but they'd have to admit me first.  Not sure Id take that risk with a sick baby.


  • psych...
    --

    psychofab

    December 11, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    i read that they took the baby out before the other hospital could accept her as well as before she was stable enough to be moved. I'm so torn here. 


  • Mary...
    -- Facebook comment from

    Mary Patton

    December 11, 2012 at 2:24 PM
    I too have a child with a severe heart defect and spent the first 7 weeks in the ICU with her following the first of 3 open heart surgeries at 6 days old. I have seen many parents in that same situation. The way those parents handled the situation was completely wrong. If her condition was even half as serious as my daughters HLHS they could have KILLED their own child pulling a stunt like that. There are ways to have a critically ill child transferred to another facility. I've seen it done many many times. The parents should have gone to the other specialist told them they need her there ASAP and had a meeting with both hospitals at the same time and set a time line up and a plan to get it done. That can and had been done all over the country! I feel sorry for the parents not knowing a better way to handle the situation.
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