Author says illness being misdiagnosed as ‘child abuse’

Urgent review for New-Born Baby to Be Returned to Its Parents

Wednesday, 11 October 2017 Update by Sue O’Callaghan

Call for new-born baby to be returned to its parents

A 5 day old baby taken from its parents at North Shore Hospital in Auckland two weeks ago by Ōranga Tamariki should be returned to its parents, says Author and Human Rights advocate Sue O’Callaghan

The baby’s sister was last year also taken from her parents, when she was four weeks old, because she was found to have unexplained rib fractures. The fractures were already healing when they were discovered by chance on an x-ray.

Although the older child (now 14 months) has recently been diagnosed as having Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), more comply known as brittle bone disease, she remains in foster care. The new baby was taken from his parents  because Ōranga Tamariki doesn’t consider that brittle bone disease explains the earlier fractures and therefore considers him to be at risk of similar harm.

Sue O’Callaghan who was present in hospital when social workers arrived to take the baby says she was concerned by the reasons the baby was being taken into care, and points out that the OI Foundation in America very clearly highlight that bone breaks often present as child abuse in the absence of correct medical support.

“Unfortunately little seems to be known about the disorder in NZ. The genetic samples were sent to Australia and came back very clearly as Type 1 OI, where bone breaks are more often than not unexplained.” She added, “to assist new parents in the USA fact sheets are available which  were not offered in NZ, and warn that patting a baby on its back to wind after feeding can cause rib breaks, as can lifting a baby under its arms”.

Sue who has worked with similar cases in the UK describes how the parents were ‘dismissed’ when suggesting there was something wrong with their first baby. They then faced the terror of not only losing that child, but of having to prove their innocence. She says, “unlike criminal law where one is innocent until proved guilty, in alleged child abuse cases the opposite is true, and these parents are now faced with a situation where they are crippled by legal fees in the efforts to seek further help.”

The family were introduced to Sue by a friend who had read her recently published book and were supportive of her being interviewed on Radio NZ a week ago, where she described the terrible suffering of the family.

She believes that ignorance surrounding this disease, categorised as a ‘Rare Disorder’ has been instrumental in causing long term psychological damage to both children who need to urgently be reunited with their parents.

She has written to the Human Rights Commission in New Zealand, as well as to the Chief Executive of Ōranga Tamariki, Gráinne Moss, seeking an urgent review of the case.

The family has started a Give-a-Little page to fund legal costs to have the matter reconsidered by the Family Court: