Seriously???? Another Couple Charged in a Diabetes Death for Religious Reasons……But this Time I wanted to Know More.

Another couple chargedLast Thursday,  a couple was arrested in Oregon and charged with first and second degree manslaughter in the death of their daughter who died in February.   It appears to be that their daughter died from untreated T1 diabetes.

This has happened before and I am sure it will happen again. 

In as much as we tend to immediately become angry, it is important to note that this is not a cut and dry established precedent in criminal law.  When it comes to religion, faith, and the healing and medical process, the two do not always mix, and more than that they are not easy to examine separately.   Here is a copy of the story but my article today is to go further than just share the story.

The child died in February, they were arrested last week.  For months to pass without an arrest is a clear sign that this is not a slam dunk case.  This got me to thinking.

I remember when I had written about another case like this a few months ago. I found it interesting at both the outrage and also the compassion felt towards the parents’ who some believe were not fully understanding; for whatever reason they didn’t.

Today, my goal is to not only just inform you of this story, but to also inform you that I went a bit further.  I had questions as to how this could even happen and I wanted to know more than ‘just the story’.  I figured you would want to know more also.

There was a study done on 172 children.  In the study there was evidence that parents withheld medical care because of reliance on religious rituals and document sufficient to determine the cause of death between the years of 1975 through 1995.  The study was done by an MD, Dr. Seth Asser; and a PhD, Dr. Rita Swan.

The study revealed that 12 of the children who died during this time frame, due to withholding medical treatment, were children with T1 Diabetes; the largest among all specific disease states with the exception of pneumonia in varying degrees (cancer was broken down into various forms of specific cancer).
The entire study can be read here. 

I tracked down and spoke to Dr. Swan who told me that she has ‘been at this’ for over 30 years.  She shared a horrific story of one of the T1 deaths that I will not share (it was truly disturbing) but will tell you that Dr. Swan stated the death, and what happened during the trial, was ‘disgusting’. She created a website called CHILD, Inc which is an acronym for Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty.

She has been an advocate since she herself was part of this practice and she reveals her story on her website (you can scroll on the picture over the home page, when you see Matthew Swan, you can read their entire story).  In part she writes: 
After nearly two weeks of serious illness, a practitioner said Matthew might have a broken bone and that Christian Scientists are allowed to go to doctors for setting of broken bones. The Swans took Matthew to a hospital, where the disease was diagnosed as Hemophilus influenza meningitis. He lived for a week in intensive care. The Christian Science practitioners would not pray for him while he had medical care.

My conversation with Dr. Swan was extremely enlightening.  To speak to a mom that had been caught up in turning their backs on conventional medicine due to a faith-based means of strictly healing by prayer; then realizing that may not have been the correct choice; and then to try to achieve goals to help children who seem to have no choice in the matter whatsoever; just left me breathless.

I asked Dr. Swan why it would take so long from the time the child died to the time officials brought charges against the parents; and she stated that in this recent case in Oregon, “It was actually pretty quickly”.  There are many reports from the medical examiner’s office that must be evaluated to know the specific cause fo death and whether or not it could have been prevented.  Everything must be weighed to determine that there are charges strong enough to be bought forward.  Remember; the parents did nothing wrong and must be proven otherwise; not the other way around.

She stated also that it is a difficult situation because in many cases specific churches will state that they actually did not tell the parents they should not get medical attention but she knows first hand that they will say that ‘God will heal (their child)’ and  ‘God doesn’t like for them to do that.” (seek medical attention).  That can weigh heavily on an individual active in a church believing in this approach.

She informed me that in the thirty years she has been fighting, changes have been made.  Religious exemptions have been repealed in many states when it comes to withholding medical care but the sound in her voice makes me think it is a lonely fight.  A long fight.

I could not find much more than what I found in Dr. Swan’s site and other stories where this unfortunate turn of events occurs.

The legal system is surely in place for a reason but I kept coming back to the same thought; how my heart breaks for the child who could have been saved.  Seems senseless to me.  Just all so senseless.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.

Happy Labor Day—How a “Single-Minded-Focus-for-a-Cure” Building Came to Be.

DADs Day SnoopyI have never looked at Labor Day as the end of something.   I have always looked at it as the beginning.  perhaps when I was a younger grammar-school child, I was not such a big fan but I really loved my high school and college years and Labor Day always meant those exciting days were around the corner.

As I grew older and earned my AFL-CIO Union cards for acting; Labor Day was a reminder to me that I had earned something that so many in my field wanted; my Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG/movie), AFTRA (TV), and Equity (Stage) cards that meant so much to me and my career.

Proudly a Union member, I relished in the Labor Day activities.  Never did I think that the AFL-CIO would play such a major role in the one dream I have been in pursuit for the longest, a cure for my kids.

The Building and Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO is made up of men and women in the various trades around the Unites States… essence; they built and build America with value on display every day.   In 1994 a dream was realized.  These same men and women had joined forces with a small group of parents who believed that building a research center focused on curing diabetes would be necessary to advance the dial on curing the disease once and for all.  That building was the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami

For almost 30 years, the D.A.D.s (Dollars Against Diabetes) Events and the LOL (Labor of Love) Golf Tournament have made up the BCTD’s bBueprint for Cure program benefitting the DRI.  Snoopy, in a hard hat, has been the representation for DAD’s Day Events for almost 15 years.   

Once the  money was collected, the first brick was laid.  And then another, and another, and up went an 87,000 sq. ft. building that would be housed with the most collaborative and brightest in the diabetes research world.  The beacon was lit and virtually every diabetes organization helps fund the crucial work because the advancements continue.

One brick at a time was placed until completion and the building opened its doors.  One brick at a time was placed offering the hope and dreams of so many who wait for a cure.  Truly the recent advances being worked on inside this building have given me a hope like I have never had before.  It is the hope inside me that could have only been given because those doors were opened in 1994. 

That Union tradition under the leadership of Sean McGarvey as President and Brent Booker as Secretary-Treasurer, along with their membership across this great nation; continues to raise over a million dollars annually for the DRI to achieve the one single-minded goal; a cure.

I have the honor and privilege to serve as the liaison with the Foundation and these wonderful people.  I have been fortunate to travel the country to speak at events and share with them the research updates.  I have seen the look in their eyes when they tell me that a member has a newly diagnosed child.  I have cried with them.  I have shared with them.  I have enjoyed their incredible efforts with over 60 different events happening around the United States annually.  I hear in the voices of Rob Severn and Bobby Crider, along with their colleagues, the importance of still trying to ‘grow’ these events each year.

They DO NOT have to this; the BCTD does not have to help find a cure for diabetes. 

It is enough to try to employ our returning veterans and better train them with skills they can utilize in the work force.  It is enough to look after legislation that will impact their members.  It is enough to constantly look to increase the employment of members each and every day. 

But they do.  For you, your children, and mine.

To those living with diabetes and/or having a loved one with diabetes I ask you to stop, this Labor Day, and realize that one of the leading diabetes research centers in the world was built by a group of men and women who care and still care to this very day.  It is because of them we will walk the road to a cure; and we will get there——“one brick at a time.”

Happy Labor Day.

I am a diabetes dad.

Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.