Steve Muscatello/AP
Attorney Philip Elbert, appointed to represent Daniel Hauser, speaks to reporters outside
of the Brown County Courthouse.

Police Search for Boy Who Needs Chemotherapy

May 20, 2009 07:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A 13-year-old Minnesota boy with cancer and his mother fled Monday, skipping a Tuesday court appearance and triggering a nationwide alert.

Court Rules Against Family

In court last week, Colleen Hauser said she would not get conventional treatment for her son Daniel. Daniel told the court he would fight the treatments, too. The two appear to have made good on their threats, failing to appear for a scheduled court hearing Tuesday. Police in Minnesota have issued a warrant for Colleen Hauser's arrest and alerted authorities throughout the United States.

Today, Anthony Hauser told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that his wife didn't tell him where they were going, but he suspects they left the country. He doesn't believe they went to Canada, the paper reported, but wouldn't divulge his suspicions.

Judge John Rodenberg ruled last week that Daniel has been "medically neglected," because after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma he received just one of the six recommended chemotherapy treatments, The Associated Press reported last week. He was to remain in his parent's custody until they failed to appear in court. 

Rodenberg, the paper said, "ordered that Daniel be placed in a foster home as soon as he is located."

Agence France-Presse reported that an X-ray taken Monday that the court ordered "showed that while the first round of treatment helped destroy some of the cancer, it has now grown back to its original size."

A report said his tumor had gotten worse just in the past week, according to AFP.

Background: Parents refused treatment

Philip Elbert, the Hauser's attorney, last week said the ruling "marginalizes" parents' decisions for their kids. "It really affirms the role that big government is better at making our decisions for us," he told the AP.

Doctors say 13-year-old Daniel Hauser’s chances of surviving Hodgkin’s disease without chemotherapy are slim. Daniel’s mother says conventional treatments conflict with their beliefs as members of the Nemenhah American Indian religious group, and that they would rather he use natural remedies instead. His family is treating his Hodgkin’s disease with a diet his mother researched on the Internet and talked about with experts. She had said he was growing “better and better every day” as a result.

Dr. Bruce Bostrom of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minneapolis was Daniel's oncologist, and he reported the family to authorities when Daniel stopped chemotherapy. Bostrom told the court that Daniel was led to believe that it was the chemotherapy making him sick, when it's the Hodgkin's.

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Related Topic: Other parents and children who refused care

Other cases of youngsters and parents asserting their rights to refuse medical care have cropped up around the country and internationally in recent months.

In neighboring Wisconsin, Leilani Neumann, is standing trial for the death of her daughter, Kara. Neumann and her husband Dale face second degree reckless homicide charges, according to television station WSAW, allegedly believed that disease was caused by sin, and could only be healed through prayer. Kara, 11, died of diabetes in March 2008, and the state believes she could have been saved with proper medical treatment. Her father's trial is scheduled to start this summer.

Last year, a British Court permitted Hannah Jones, a terminally ill teenager, to refuse a heart transplant. Diagnosed with leukemia at age 4, the girl spent much of her life undergoing medical treatments; her heart was weakened by medication she took to fight an infection.

Hannah’s parents were told at one point that their daughter could be removed from their home if they didn’t bring her in for the transplant.

“I’ve been in hospital too much. I’ve had too much trauma,” Hannah stated at the time. “There’s not a month or year that goes by where I have not had medical treatment. I didn’t want to go through any more operations. I didn’t want this and it’s not my choice to have it.”

In Oregon, another teen died of a treatable urinary tract condition after he refused medical help. Neil Beagley and his family, members of the Oregon City Followers of Christ, believed that prayer, not medical treatment, would be the best way to cure his illness.

A few months prior, Beagley’s niece, 15-month-old Ava Worthington, died of an untreated bronchial infection, and her parents were charged with manslaughter. At the time, Oregon law stated that children over age 14 could make their own decisions about medical care. Beagley was 16, so his parents did not face charges.

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