Parents Prayed While Daughter Died
Posted by shadmia on March 28, 2008
Madeline Kara Neumann,11, of Weston, Wisconsin died of diabetic ketoacidosis. Her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, believed so strongly in the power of prayer, that they refused to seek medical attention for their daughter until it was too late to save her life.
In fact when their daughter fell unconscious the first 911 call did not come from the Neumann’s house in Wisconsin. The call came from Ariel Gomez, the sister-in-law of Leilani Neumann, who lives in California. Ariel Gomez had to call 911 twice because she did not have the Neumann’s complete address. She told the dispatcher:
“My sister in law is, her daughter’s severely, severely sick and she believes her daughter is in a coma. And, she’s very religious so she’s refusing to take (Kara) to the hospital, so I was hoping maybe somebody could go over there.”
“Please. I mean, she’s refusing. She’s gonna fight it so, she’s gonna fight it. We’ve been trying to get her to take (Kara) to the hospital for a week, a few days now so.”
After getting the correct address, the dispatcher sent the police and EMS to the Neumann house. While on the way, another 911 call was placed from the Neumann house. EMS arrived at the house to find Kara not breathing and transported her to Saint Claire’s hospital where she was pronounced dead. Hear both 911 calls here.
It is unusual for children to die from diabetic ketoacidosis. It is a serious but treatable form of type 1 diabetes, caused by acid build up in the blood. Kara’s parents claim the did not know that she had diabetes. Kara had not been to see a doctor since she was 3-years-old. The Neumanns believed in the power of prayer to cure illness.
Wisconsin Social Services has interviewed the family’s three other children — ages 13, 14 and 17 — and had them examined by a medical doctor, Vergin said. They will most likely be returned to the home.Police Chief Dan Vergin of the Everest Metro Police said that during an interview with detectives the parents said “they believed even though they knew she was ill, they had enough faith and prayer that God would heal her.”
“They said it was the course of action they would take again,” Vergin said. “They firmly believe even if they had taken her to a doctor, if this was the time God had chosen for her to die, she would die regardless of medical interference.”
Through an autopsy it was determined she had diabetic ketoacidosis.
“The doctor who did the autopsy and others have said she would have been showing signs for about six months, and she would have been symptomatic, very thirsty, lots of urination, dry skin for the last week,” Vergin said. “They felt she would have been quite ill.”
This young girl did not have to die but Vergin said the death of the girl brings up difficult issues.
“At what point do religious beliefs take over for medical help? And the flip of the coin is at what point are the parents responsible for the health and welfare of their children,” he said. “These people truly believed their prayer and faith would heal their daughter. They have no question about that.”
So far the parents have not been charged with committing any crime. However the police are now preparing a report for prosecutors. It will be up to the district attorney to decide whether or not to file charges.
Under Wisconsin statutes, parents can’t be accused of abuse or neglect if the sole reason for the injury is that they relied on prayer, said Norman Fost, professor of bioethics and pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, adding that the First Amendment to the Constitution gives citizens the right to practice religion.
But Robyn S. Shapiro, an attorney who is professor of bioethics and director of the Bioethics Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said abuse or neglect can include “failure to appropriately respond or supply medical care to your kid.”
“A Jehovah’s Witness can refuse life-saving blood transfusion based on their religious belief,” he said. “They’re protected. But they can’t refuse it for their child . . . the First Amendment extends to their own behavior but not their children’s.”
“The parents certainly didn’t want their daughter to die, they didn’t want her to be ill,” Vergin said. “They just chose a course of action that allowed her to regress into coma and then death.”