Mom locked in custody battle with hospital in Chicago for her teenage son

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The family of a Staley High School student says they went to Chicago hoping doctors could cure a medical problem. Instead, they say the trip has ruined their lives.

"He's in a stranger’s home in a state we don't even live in," said Michelle Rider, Isaiah’s mom.

Sixteen-year-old Isaiah Rider lives in foster care. Michelle Rider says besides a couple of hours of supervised visitation per week,  she has very little contact with her son these days.

The two rely on text messages back and forth, while waiting for a judge to decide if the teenager can come home to Kansas City, or must remain the ward of a state where he was once just a visitor.

"He's very upset and wants to come home," Michelle said via Skype interview.

While Michelle is in Chicago fighting to get her son, we talked to her mother, Judy Rider, who said it all started when Isaiah broke his leg at just six years old.

“His leg beneath the break didn’t grow," Judy said.

Ten years and 10 surgeries later, Isaiah's leg was amputated.

"After the amputation he suffered severe pain and tremors along with that,” Judy said.

Isaiah was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow on nervous system tissue. Michelle said Isaiah began his treatment at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and has been in and out of four other hospitals across the country before ending up at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

“We were hoping to have surgery to improve the pain in his leg, when in fact, Isaiah had complications that started in surgery. Under general anesthesia he started having pain and severe convulsions that Lurie was not able to manage,” Michelle said.

She said her son continued to get worse.

"They were trying, but they were not working, so I started requesting a transfer to another hospital," Michelle said.

"I don't know if it was an insult to them, I mean they actually appeared to be going along with the transfer, but took custody away from her prior to a transfer happening,” Judy said.

That was April 15, Michelle, accused of medical abuse and Munchausen by proxy.

"It's a diagnosis where a parent tries to hurt their child, when in fact, I was trying to help my child who was suffering,” Michelle said.

When asked by FOX 4, Judy said that Michelle does not suffer from a disorder that could potentially cause Isaiah to say in the hospital, shuffled between doctors.

Lurie Children's Hospital declined our request for an interview, but sent a statement which reads in part:

"Due to patient privacy issues we cannot comment on any individual case. ... As part of our 132 year mission, we are committed to ensuring the health and welfare of every child we serve."

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  • kindley2

    Sounds like the movie “First Do No Harm” with Meryl Streep. That movie was based on a true story where a hospital wanted to do brain surgery on a kid who was having seizures. The mom wanted to take the child to the Mayo Clinic to try a new treatment for seizures that was a change in diet instead of surgery. In the moving, they mom won and the child was cured of his seizures. Never, never, never should a hospital or any other medical professional dictate to a parent how their child should be cared for. If the child were being abused or neglected, that’s something different. But in this case, the hospital is wrong and I would not have asked for a transfer, but just removed my kid from the hospital. It’s a hospital, not a prison for goodness sake!!

    • InformedMom

      You gave a perfect example of another true story where a mother needed to fight a hospital to gain the best treatment for her child. Many people are completely naive when it comes to trusting hospitals. They think that doctors are God-like figures who are all knowing and we should all blindly listen to them and follow them unquestioningly. For years, it twas an accepted practice to get a second opinion and then make an educated, informed decision concerning your own healthcare or that of your child’s. Now, hospitals claim the parent has a mental condition if they dare to question a doctor.

  • Chris Wilson

    sounds like that hospital is filled with idealistic pigs who have no idea on real life experiences and only care about money and their jobs witch is sad because we have a government that backs that kind of idiotic think I have been in hospitals all my life and see thoughts doctors all the time that should not doctors in and way more or less should be around kids

    • Ben

      Are……….: The boy wasn’t kidnapped and apparently, the hospital is where he needs to be because of his medical issues. Hospitals don’t keep kids because they are short on patients. I cannot believe the ignorance of some people. I hope KINDLEY, CHRIS and ARE don’t have any children. We have enough idiots, who are short on brain cells, running around.

      • Sondra René Eisenman-Torian

        Ben, You are so wrong and so naive or a troll. Noone here actully beleives that this was good intentions by the hospital and noone here believes this mother has a mental disorder. CPS is wrong, this hospital is wrong. I so sick of people thinking parents are so bad to their children, I want you to ask your self one question.. actully two… Is child abuse and neglect a criminal offense and a person proven in a court law should go to prison .. i think so… Secondly if this mother did abuse and neglect a child then why is she NOT in prison!? Come on. oh btw hospitals are not the law , nor are they there to enforce it. They are manadated to report in good faith that they believe a child has been abused or neglected, CPS then takes the case to ” investigate” and a court of law decides and in these cases it civil law… not criminal that is the problem with this.

      • Traci

        Ben, I have to wonder if you work in the medical field…sounds like you have some ‘skin in this fight’.

  • Tina Redden

    They do it for the money! I would not doubt if they use him to experiment on! But to those of you who think this does not happen your crazy as a looney tune! You need to wake up and get back down to reality it happens all the time! I’d say they had made a huge mistake that they were afraid the other Hospital and Doctors might figure out! Or they might have been using him to try meds that caused some of this and they do not want caught! Man people are so blinded!

  • Matt

    My son is currently a part of a clinical trial at Lurie’s and I never experienced any type of overstepping of bounds or them attempting to enforce their views over mine. They are a leader in the health industry and have an amazing history and reputation for treating and curing children of rare diseases and cancer. Without this hospital the US would be worse off in the medical field.

    That being said, when you’re making medical decisions for your child that has very little guidance for past medical history you need to support that parent and believe it’s the best decision for that child. Us parents have the guilt of not know which option is best. It’s clear she trusted Lurie’s at one time however had an abrupt change of heart. They should have clearly explained what was occurring and what their course of action is. Once Isaiah was in a stable state he should have been released back to the mom.

    For those who think this is for money or not for the best intention of Isaiah is horribly wrong. Lurie’s national recognition gives them more than enough patients and they’d never have to do anything for money and the hospital recruits the best docs in the world. This appears to be a doctor who strongly felt the mother was making the wrong decision and felt they could offer the best treatment option. They did overstep their bounds and this never should have occurred. Hopefully this is cleared up ASAP and restitution is paid to the mother for all of the grief they were put through and is reunited with her son.

    To be clear I don’t believe this is a reflection of Lurie’s hospital. Even hearing this news I would never pull my son from going here, they are one of 4 centers in the US that have any experience with my son’s condition and they’ve treated us with nothing but respect and world class heath care.

    • Sampson

      Based on Isaiah’s case, there is no way I would allow this hospital to treat my child particularly in a clinical trial. I hope your son gets good treatment, but I would not bet on it.

  • Ben

    If the kid wasn’t sick and didn’t need to be in the hospital, the insurance would have cut off the benefits long ago. I just cannot believe how ignorant so many people are on this site. How many of you have been in the hospital and they have refused to release you? Probably none because it is an extremely rare occurrence. I suggest that everyone who is complaining about the crimes of hospitals, not go or take your children when you all are sick. Stay home because the hospital may kidnap you. The truth is that you may end up in the psych ward.

    • Sampson

      You are so wrong. Insurance companies rarely overturn a physician’s determinatin of medical necessity. Physicians often disagree on a treatment plan. Why not let the family get another opinion? In the meantime, the boy is leaving in the hood in Chicago. 13 more shootings in Chicago last night according to the Tribune. The boy attends Staley High School in KC. There aren’t 13 shootings a year within a 10 mile radius of Staley. Bring the boy home where he would be safe.

    • Aboo

      I’ve been in the hospital twice with Diabetic Keto-acitosis. I was 18 years old the first time, 20 years old the second. The first time, when I refused to allow a nursing student to perform an extremely painful procedure on me, AFTER he had botched it twice, I was told that they would immediately discharge me and recommend that the insurance company not pay for my treatment because I “refused treatment”. I finally agreed to allow the doctor himself to perform the test and remained in the hospital for 3 more days.

      The second time, I refused to allow the same procedure, was again threatened with immediate discharge and “refusal of treatment”. This time, I stuck to my guns, and they did not end up discharging me until I was deemed well enough to leave the ICU, two days later. Then, instead of moving me to a normal room, they discharged me immediately and did tell the insurance company that I was discharged due to refusal of treatment. It took two years to get the financial issues resolved and it destroyed my credit in the process.

      I’m now 40 years old, with two children, one with diabetes My sister also has a son with diabetes. Guess who will never darken the door of THAT hospital, ever?

  • I love kids!

    This type of tragedy is increasingly happening throughout the country. The parents are often slapped with gag orders preventing them from disclosing the horror that they are going through. Thankfully Lou Pelletier stood up to the bullies in the case of his daughter (google the story if you aren’t familiar with it). is an organization working to bring back the rights of parents by the Parental Rights Amendment. If you care about kids, I urge you to check out the organization while there is still time.