Many of you have been following the ongoing medical kidnapping attempt of a seven-year-old little girl named Kennedy Willey at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, California. There is a whole back-story on how she came to have seizures as a toddler. Click here to read her mother’s Mommypotamus interview in better days.
I have known Kennedy’s mother, Dawn, for a couple of years now and I met her whole family earlier this year on my way through Southern California. Kennedy’s parents are two of my favorite parents of all-time. They are mother-effing warriors, I tell you. We should all aspire to be so strong.
They have worked very hard to manage their daughter’s seizure disorder without pharmaceutical drugs (which were failing her) by providing her with the healthiest, most nutritious foods available. They have left their home state to allow Kennedy to live on the water where allergy pollen is low and life is peaceful. Kennedy has blown away every statistic ever known about her seizure disorder and she is a model patient in how to manage it. She is smart, she is funny, she is active and she is normal. You would never know when you meet her that she has a debilitating disease.
A few weeks ago Kennedy’s seizures began to return and by April 18th she was having multiple grand mals a day. Her parents had no choice but to take her to their local ER on April 23rd when they could not bring the seizures under control. The ER transferred Kennedy to Children’s Hospital of Orange County for admission. Dawn was horrified since she’d heard the nightmare stories about their head neurologist, Dr. Zupanc, who claims to be the foremost expert on Kennedy’s seizure disorder.
Kennedy underwent EEGs, anesthesia and two spinal taps, an MRI, a CT scan, and was loaded with Depakote, Keppra, and Phenobarbitrol. When a dose of Depakote caused Kennedy to suffer an allergic reaction, as Dawn warned the staff it would, the doctor’s order was to give her more. Dawn had to throw her body in between her daughter and the nurses to stop the dosing.
Kennedy worsened in their care and the seizures were clustering badly, minutes apart, but the doctors continued to load her with meds. Kennedy was starved by the hospital for seven straight days despite their promise to honor her mother’s request for a feeding tube so that Kennedy could metabolize the medication.
Dr. Zupanc refused to believe that Kennedy had been a happy, healthy, normal child running on the beach and didn’t want to watch her mother’s videos showing it because in her opinion, no “normal” child has Kennedy’s seizure disorder. She said that the GAPS diet that brought so much healing to Kennedy was not proven, and that she, the doctor, knew Kennedy better than her parents.
On April 26th, after three days of terrifying downward spiral, Dawn asked that Kennedy be at least four hours seizure-free before going back on the EEG. The doctor burst into the room screaming about getting a court order and Kennedy’s dad Carl took the conversation outside. When he returned he said the hospital made the decision to move Kennedy to the ICU. This was the hospital’s first step in starting to treat Kennedy without her parents’ consent.
Then the neurologist called Child Protective Services.
At 11pm CPS arrived and interrogated Kennedy’s starving, sleep-deprived, emotionally-wrecked parents for 2 hours. The next morning Dr. Zupanc came into Kennedy’s room with ten other doctors and claimed that Kennedy was having seizures that only the doctor could see, and that she had grounds to increase the drug load. Kennedy was already comatose and wearing a diaper by this point.
Their little girl was slipping away before their eyes and CPS made it clear that if Dawn and Carl intervened again, they would come back with a court order. Dawn and Carl had no choice but to submit to a second spinal tap.
Friends, I personally was down on my knees praying for this child by this point. I was sick over them losing her.
On April 28th Kennedy finally got a feeding tube after starving for seven straight days; a horrific procedure.
Dawn and Carl began to make moves to get Kennedy out of CHOC while CPS was interviewing their 8-year-old daughter, Reagan, in their home. They hired two attorneys and a 20-year medical advocate. Dr. Zupanc had other plans and the battle went all the way to the chief of the hospital. The medical advocate veteran had never seen a doctor behave in this way before.
On a conference call, a metabolic doctor told them that a second spinal tap was a dangerous fishing expedition. The ICU pediatrician said that Kennedy was stable enough to be airlifted out. Arrangements were made and the University of California at San Francisco was standing by to receive little Kennedy.
Carl left to get the transfer papers notarized when the ICU pediatrician informed Dawn that Dr. Zupanc had blocked their transfer by declaring Kennedy unfit to travel. Carl returned and begged the pediatrician to advocate on their behalf and release Kennedy but the doctor was afraid of dealing with the wrath of Dr. Zupanc.
After hours of negotiating with Carl, the attorneys, and the medical advocate, the pediatrician released Kennedy from the hospital. When UCSF called to finalize the transfer, Dr. Zupanc got on a recorded line and stated that Kennedy was not approved for travel by her or her colleagues. Confused, UCSF called Carl, who promptly got the ICU pediatrician on the phone, and confirmed that Kennedy was free to leave. Her exit was arranged for 8am the next day, April 29th.
At 7:30 am they were informed the release was rescheduled for 10 am, and at 8 am technicians came into the room in attempt to re-wire Kennedy to the EEG, on Dr. Zupanc’s orders. Carl had to get the pediatrician to intervene on their behalf. Finally, at 12:15, the team arrived to get Kennedy the hell out of there. She was finally going to be safe in San Francisco.
Kennedy began to wake from her comatose state as the hours passed without Dr. Zupanc’s drugs. On April 30th she sat up and ate eggs, bacon, yogurt and pears for breakfast.
The celebration was short-lived as Carl and Dawn discovered that Dr. Zupanc had called CPS in San Francisco. The doctor accused the Willeys of severe medical neglect and refusing all medication.
Friends, you know what this situation calls for. Kennedy needs your help and obviously this doctor needs a little assistance in getting her mind right. She’s got to call off these dogs.
The contact information for CHOC is found by clicking here. Call and ask to speak to the hospital chief, and the head supervisor of the neurology department. Tell them that you condemn Dr. Zupanc’s actions and that you expect her to lose her position at the hospital. Click here to write an email telling them exactly what you think of this situation. The CHOC Twitter handles are CHOCchildrens and CHOCdocs. Call their donors and tell them to stop donating. Call the US Senators for California and tell them that not only did this happen, but it is still happening, and you expect this to stop immediately.
Medical kidnapping seems like a sensationalist idea until it happens to someone you love. Let’s stop this one in its tracks.
Keep in touch with Kennedy’s Facebook page here.