- - Thursday, April 17, 2014


The terrorist-perpetrated Boston Marathon bombing that resulted in four deaths and hundreds injured was a tragedy. There may well be another Boston tragedy occurring now for a teenager and her family.

Justina Pelletier was diagnosed by Tufts Medical Center physicians with mitochondrial disease (“Family, agency in custody battle over sick daughter,” Web, April 8). The prescribed treatment improved Justina’s condition. It was the same treatment given to her older sister, in whose case it had been equally effective.

The family moved to Connecticut, and when Justina developed a further medical problem, her primary physician sent her to see a former Tufts physician who was then on staff at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. When she arrived at the hospital, a physician several months out of residency determined that mitochondrial disease was not a diagnosis and Justina’s problems were mental, not physical. This doctor did not allow Justina to see the physician she had been referred to.

Within a short time, a psychologist and this physician determined not only were Justina’s symptoms caused by mental problems, but Justina was being abused by her family, too. The Massachusetts Children’s Services took custody of Justina and stopped her treatment. From that time, her physical condition has steadily deteriorated. The justice system failed when a judge on several occasions did not allow Justina to return to her parents and resume the Tufts-prescribed treatment. The Tufts physicians stand by their diagnosis and treatment.

If these facts are verified, the physician and psychologist, as well as hospital and state officials who made these inappropriate decisions, should be held accountable and receive appropriate penalties. This issue needs to be fairly investigated to allow the facts to determine what is best for the young girl and her caring family.


Centerville, Mass.

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