Lorina has now written a book, titled “Miracles of Faith,” that goes into the details of her family’s journey through the medical and legal systems and how their faith saw them through it all. She’s currently writing a second book, a continuation of the first, which will consist of her journey towards healing and advocating for legislative changes. Her first book is available directly through the publishing company, Westbow Press, A Division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
Tragedies are happening all over the country that can be prevented. In Michigan parents lost custody of their 6-week-old son after a doctor observed marks on the baby’s abdomen and reported them as “diagnostic of physical abuse.” The children were returned to their parents by a judge after hearing evidence that the lesions were likely caused by the straps of a baby swing.
After adopting a child in Wisconsin, that child was removed from her pediatrician parents when confusion between bruises and birthmarks arose. Not only was the child removed from the home, but their careers were impacted as well. Even though a multitude of physicians testified with evidence exonerating the two pediatricians, child welfare services ignored all the exculpatory reports. One doctor even said, “Honestly, this all seems quite preposterous.”
These are just a few of the stories shared with NBC News and the Houston Chronicle by more than 300 families from 38 states, following a yearlong investigation focusing on the plight of parents accused of child abuse based on inaccurate reports by doctors. The never-ending flood of parents in these predicaments – all over the United States – demonstrates the need for second and third opinions when it comes to suspected abuse.
One story that wasn’t included in the television program was that of Lorina Troy. Shortly after moving from California to Texas, she had their second son, JJ. And, she had no idea that just a few months later, she and her spouse would lose custody of both of their children.
When JJ was born, nobody knew the newborn had a birth-related injury. That’s because none of the doctors Lorina saw were up front with her about it. They didn’t spend enough time or effort on an ultrasound near the end of the pregnancy which had shown JJ’s head to be two weeks larger than normal. Even after his birth, Lorina was never told that her son’s head was larger than it should have been. After noticing that it continued to grow, Lorina became concerned, but not alarmed.
However, when JJ started vomiting a lot, he was diagnosed with a stomach virus. His mother was told to keep him hydrated and bring him home to rest. However, the vomiting didn’t stop. At the local urgent care facility, they said the same thing. Then came the hospital. Everyone came up with the same diagnosis – a stomach bug – even though his head continued to swell with each visit.
Eventually, after begging for help for her child, Lorina finally got the doctors to agree do an MRI of her son. It showed that there was a build-up of fluid in her son’s brain. Because, in some cases this can be a sign of head trauma, the doctors assumed the worst, accusing Lorina’s family of child abuse. Her request for a second opinion was denied on site. Begging the doctors for help, Lorina said, “I told him, my son has never been hurt in any way, could this be anything else? And he told me, yes, but since he’s a baby and can’t talk, we are just going to go with abuse and walked away.” As a result of a misdiagnosis, Lorina’s children were taken from her and placed in foster care. This was time she could never get back.
Shortly after, the children’s father was charged with two felony counts of child abuse, carrying a sentence of between five and 99 years. He immediately lost his high-paying job. The couple searched for a lawyer to take the case. And in the end, in order to get her children back, all because of a doctor’s mistake, her family lost over $80,000 in fees, medical expenses, and lost wages.
Over the following two years, JJ was seen by numerous doctors but continued to be misdiagnosed. Eventually, a doctor in Maryland discovered JJ had Benign External Hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition where cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the cranium, causing an enlarged head among other symptoms like vomiting, seizures, and breathing difficulties. It can be present at birth and is the result of genetic abnormalities, problems with fetal development, or complications at birth. With the new diagnosis, the charges against Jason were dropped.
The Troy children were only in foster care for about 5 months. But in many of the cases investigated by NBC News and the Houston Chronicle, parents are still separated from their children; some due to the case working its way through the system and some due to a termination of parental rights. In all the cases, the outcome was due to a misdiagnosis of child abuse.