In a case eerily similar to the ongoing Justina Pelletier saga, a mother from Kansas City, Missouri, is battling a Chicago hospital after her 16-year-old son was placed in temporary protective custody amid allegations of “medical child abuse.”
Michelle Rider’s son suffers from serious health issues. The mother told TheBlaze that her son has been diagnosed with a genetic disease called neurofibromatosis, a “horrible” condition in which tumors develop on nerves throughout the body. He also suffers from painful convulsions in his left leg following a partial amputation in 2012.
Seeking specialized medical care, Rider said she decided to take her son to Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago earlier this year. The teenager underwent surgery at the Chicago hospital on March 31, during which doctor’s removed painful tumors from his spine, leg and side area.
However, when the 16-year-old started having painful convulsions in his leg again, the mother said the hospital didn’t know what to do. The Chicago Tribune reported that a dispute arose between doctors and the mother over how to treat the pain. Rider reportedly advocated for a powerful sedative that eased her son’s pain — pain that doctors alleged diminished when she wasn’t present.
Rider says she was unsatisfied with the treatment her son was receiving at Lurie Children’s Hospital and wanted to transfer him back to Boston Children’s Hospital, which she says provided him better treatment in the past that helped ease the pain and symptoms her son experiences.
Boston Children's Hospital is the same hospital embroiled in the Pelletier case. Rider later clarified that she was unaware of the Pelletier case when she was considering having her son transferred to Boston Children's Hospital. She told TheBlaze the hospital now "disgusts" her knowing what they did to Justina Pelletier.
Then, she said, she was hit with a bombshell that left her stunned.
Lurie Children’s Hospital alleged that the teenager displayed characteristics of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, also referred to as “medical child abuse.” The hospital informed the mother that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services would be taking her son into temporary protective custody. She was prohibited from seeing her child for 24 days.
The hospital accused Rider of interfering with her son's medical care, moving him from hospital to hospital across five states and disagreeing with doctors' advice, including how to treat the pain from the convulsions.
The boy has since been placed in a Chicago-area foster home and is still in temporary custody of DCFS as Rider battles the Cook County court’s Child Protection Division to prove she is a fit parent.
“The boy initially thanked authorities for getting him away from his mother, saying he loved her but that she was too controlling and caused him stress when she fought with doctors, records show,” the Chicago Tribune reported. “He recently told the Tribune he was heavily medicated at the time and does not recall making those statements.”
“They just made up bogus allegations to defend their actions because they didn’t want to transfer my son,” Rider said of Lurie Children’s Hospital. “They even told Boston Children’s Hospital that my son was getting better, which just isn’t true.”
The mother adamantly denied the allegations of “medical child abuse” in an interview with TheBlaze on Thursday, saying there are records of her son’s symptoms continuing even after the hospital took custody of him.
“They testified in court that his movements stopped that he didn’t have any more, but we have documentation that it’s not true,” she said. “My son was on 15 medications at one point. He went into the hospital on just a few medications and vitamin D.”
“I have been an nurse for 16 years and I have never even heard of anything like this,” Rider continued. “It would be hard for me to believe, but now that it’s happened to me I have no choice.”
Rider claims “multiple parents” have reached out to her since her story became public and said the same thing happened to them, including three parents from Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“Theres definitely a pattern here and clearly an abuse of power,” she said.
The next temporary custody hearing is scheduled for June 12 in Chicago, Rider said.
Representatives from Lurie Children's Hospital did not return requests for comment from TheBlaze.
"My son wants to come home," she told TheBlaze. "He's in a foster home and he's my child. And he's in an area in Chicago where you can't stand on a street corner alone without possibly being mistaken for a drug dealer and shot. ... It's a nightmare."
This story has been updated with additional information.