A woman has pleaded guilty to recklessly causing injury to a child after putting her son through 13 major surgeries and approximately 320 hospital visits during the first eight years of his life.
Kaylene Bowen, 35, from Dallas, Texas, was accused of exposing her son, Christopher, to a lifetime of unnecessary and painful medical tests after telling people he was suffering from a number of serious conditions.
The mum appeared in a Dallas County courtroom on Thursday (August 15), and faces two to 20 years in prison for the second-degree felony.
As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Christopher was eight years old when he and his two half siblings were removed from their mother by Child Protective Services (CPS) in November 2018.
Accused of lying and exaggerating about her son’s health, Kaylene had started or had been the subject of numerous fundraisers which claimed Christopher was dying – initially from a rare genetic disorder, Arteriovenous malformation, and later from cancer.
Authorities alleged she had her son fitted with a feeding tube which fed directly into his small intestine and led to multiple life-threatening blood infections. They said she also attempted to get him on the lung transplant list and put him in hospice care.
Although Christopher’s father, Ryan Crawford, had tried to convince authorities for years his son was not sick, Dallas County family court judges believed Bowen and one judge even prohibited him from visits with his son, who was three at the time.
CPS only became involved when Dallas hospital staff alerted them to the fact that medical records showed Christopher had been seen 323 times at hospitals and paediatric centres and had undergone 13 major surgeries between 2009 and 2016.
Authorities allege Bowen’s crimes appear to fit the description of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care.
Speaking after Bowen’s plea, Christopher’s father Ryan said on Friday (August 16):
I am happy that she decided to do the right thing. Eventually the lies had to stop. Now hopefully those who thought a mother could never do this to their child will see evil does exist.
Medical abuse is under reported every day. Now its time to move forward and make sure no child has to suffer the abuse my son endured.
Crawford is now the sole managing conservator of Christopher, meaning he gets to make all the decisions regarding the medical treatment his son receives, as well as where he lives and attends school.
The father said his son, now 10, is doing well academically and is very athletic; he has no medical issues and has only needed to go to the doctor for physicals each year, Crawford said.
A sentencing hearing for Bowen is scheduled for October 11.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).