Dallas, Texas, USA : 34-year-old Kaylene Bowen-Wright, a Texas mom has been arrested after authorities allege her 8-year-old son, Christopher Bowen, had hundreds of unnecessary hospital visits – 323 times in Dallas and Houston between 2009 and 2016 – and 13 surgeries.
Kaylene Bowen-Wright was arrested and charged with injury to a child with serious bodily harm last week, according to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office.
The tipping point came last month, when Kaylene Bowen-Wright brought him to a Dallas hospital, claiming he had a seizure.
The medical staff reported seeing a “general and full shake,” but could find no evidence of a seizure, officials reported.
That led them to suspect that his symptoms may have been caused intentionally, and they alerted Child Protective Services — the second such report since 2015.
“I am very concerned that mother has moved from exaggerating symptoms to inducing symptoms,” Dr. Suzanne Dakil reportedly wrote in the CPS petition.
Investigators believe the medical abuse began when Christopher was only 11 days old in 2009.
Medical records show Christopher saw the doctor 323 times in Dallas and Houston between 2009 and 2016, according to the CPS petition.
In his short life, Christopher was placed full time on oxygen and used a wheelchair at times. He had a feeding tube outfitted directly into his small intestine, which resulted in three life-threatening blood infections, according to reports.
Bowen-Wright had him in hospice care before and even tried to get him on the lung transplant list.
A YouCaring fundraiser two years ago, which raised more than $8,000, said the young boy was battling a severe case of arteriovenous malformation.
“Diagnosed at the age of two, the congenital condition is slowly taking the wind out of the sails of this bright and active boy,” the campaign reads.
Doctors determined Christopher does not have cancer or many of the symptoms his mother alleged. In fact, medical staff deemed a majority of his procedures unnecessary, according to the Star-Telegram.
The child’s father, Ryan Crawford, told reporters that he tried to persuade Dallas County Family Court judges that his son was not sick.
“How do you do 13 surgeries? How do you do it?” he asked. “How do you do 13 surgeries and not question the fifth surgery? The sixth surgery?”
Since being removed from his mother’s care, Christopher eats regularly, has had no seizures, feeding tubes, oxygen or an IV, officials said.
Crawford is currently looking to get custody of Christopher, who, along with his two half-siblings, was removed from her care and placed in foster care.
“It’s horrible for my son, or any kid because obviously, my son is not the only one that has had to go through this type of torture,” Crawford said.
Investigators think the case is one of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental disorder in which a caregiver makes up an illness or injury to get medical care.
“They doctor shop and hospital shop,” says Dr. Marc Feldman, a nationally recognized expert on the disorder. “They often frequent many emergency rooms over a wide geographic area. One doctor may never know that medical procedures or diagnostic tests have already been performed elsewhere, so it happens again and again and again.”
Feldman believes that the disorder is underreported. He says there is a nine percent mortality rate among published reports – making it one of the most lethal forms of child abuse.
“These mothers tend to be master deceivers and liars,” Feldman said. “They’re very skilled at what they do.”
Crawford and Bowen-Wright met at a club about a decade ago. They dated on-and-off for about two years.
He says there were early signs when she was pregnant that something wasn’t right. She would call in the middle of the night and claim to be in the hospital.
Christopher was born prematurely, but otherwise healthy, he said.
He recalls that Bowen-Wright constantly claimed that Christopher would not drink his milk and would throw it up when he did. Over time, her claims about Christopher’s medical problems became more and more outlandish.
The more he questioned Christopher’s medical issues, the less she was willing to let him see his son, he says.
At points, Crawford represented himself in custody proceedings. He says he tried to tell the judge that his son was not sick, but the judge believed his ex.
In 2012, he says Lori Hockett, a family court district judge, stripped him of his visitation rights because he refused to accept that his son was dying.
“Every single [time] she went into [the] courtroom, she would say Christopher is dying,” Crawford said. “The judge stated that I needed to accept that my son was dying and I said, ‘No, I’m not going to accept that my son was dying’ and she took away from my visitation.’”
In 2014, Bowen-Wright hired an attorney and tried to get full custody of their son. Crawford says he obtained medical records showing his son was not sick. He says the judge refused to even look at the records and dismissed his motion.
“It makes me feel as if the system wants to believe the mother all the time in situations, when the father is there fighting,” Crawford said.
Hockett is not currently a judge. She told the Star-Telegram in an email that she could not comment on Crawford’s allegations.
Through it all, Crawford says he continued to pay his $600 a month in child support.
Crawford says he complained to CPS twice and his aunt complained to CPS once. CPS spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales said the agency has no record of the complaints.
In 2015, Dr. Michelle Thomas reported her concerns to CPS about Bowen-Wright. In a letter, she wrote that there had been “a longstanding concern for possible medical child abuse by many providers.”
When CPS investigated, Bowen-Wright told the investigator she was filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
“The allegation of medical neglect of Christopher Bowen … is ruled out,” CPS concluded. “All of Christopher’s needs are being met.”
Crawford is fighting to get his son back. He is in the process of trying to hire an attorney to help him, but he knows he could be in for an expensive fight. Crawford’s co-workers have set up a GoFundMe to help him.
“Out of everything that has happened, the worst thing you can do is put my children in foster care with strangers,” he says. “I need my son in my life and my son needs me in [his] life.”
He believes money was Bowen-Wright’s motivation, and he wants her to go prison for life.
“Obviously, she was living life for free and off my son,” he says.
Crawford blames the system – the judges, the doctors, and CPS – who he says failed to keep his son from eight years of misery that he never should have had to endure.
Crawford has seen his son twice since he was put in foster care.
“He looked as if nothing had ever happened to him,” he says. “He’s a blessing. God has watched over him.”