by Health Impact News/MedicalKidnap.com Staff
Keshia Turner understands why authorities wanted an investigation. She and her husband Chris, from Tennessee, want answers, too. They desperately want to know what is wrong with their baby boy Brayden, because something is clearly wrong. She believed that the investigation would lead to a medical explanation being found for her baby’s medical and developmental issues, an explanation that would demonstrate that they are loving, dedicated parents, and would lead to proper treatment for their child.
However, after a child abuse doctor at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital accused Keshia of abuse, the investigators and doctors stopped looking for any other explanation for Brayden’s condition. He is now 9 months old, and cannot even sit up by himself, but doctors at Vanderbilt tell the Turners that there is no need for any testing.
Keisha recently shared her family’s story on a blogtalk radio program “In Defense of America’s Children,” hosted by Tennessee attorney and family advocate Connie Reguli. Her story may be heard here.
Young Couple Thrilled to Be Pregnant
When Keshia, now 22, learned that she and Chris were expecting Brayden, she couldn’t have been happier. She says being a mommy was all she ever wanted, recounting a sweet story of saving up money as a little girl in the hopes that her parents would adopt a baby for her.
“I never wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. I wanted to be a mom.”
Her husband Chris shares her love of children. He has a 3 year old daughter that he has adopted from a previous relationship. He adores her, and the adoration is mutual.
High Risk Pregnancy and Birth
Keshia’s pregnancy moved into a high-risk category when her water broke at just 23 weeks. She was placed on bed rest until Brayden was born at just under 31 weeks, on September 1, 2014. Her tiny bundle weighed just 3 lbs 3 oz, and his parents fell in love immediately with him.
Brayden was born with club feet. His left leg was splinted while he was in the NICU because it was so crooked. Keshia pumped her breastmilk for him, did skin-to-skin care, and did everything that she knew to do to help her baby. On October 10, after 5 weeks, Brayden was strong enough to come home.
Family and friends often dropped by their east Tennessee home unannounced, and Keshia welcomed them in. She loved her role as a stay-at-home mom.
She reports that Brayden often had a stuffy nose and congestion, which she now knows was an allergic response to the wood heat in the home. There was one incident when he choked because of the drainage and stopped breathing. They called 911, but he was breathing fine by the time the ambulance arrived. Because of his congestion, she took him to her pediatrician frequently, often weekly. Her doctor had been Keshia’s own pediatrician who watched her grow up.
Something Is Wrong With Brayden’s Leg After Vaccination
It was just a few weeks after Brayden received several vaccines that Keshia describes noticing a red, swollen place on Brayden’s leg, the same leg that had been splinted in the NICU. On Oct. 30, Brayden received 5 vaccines in one doctor visit: DTap (3 combo shot), Hib, and IPV. On this day, December 11, Brayden showed no signs of being in pain, but the area was tight and warm to the touch. At first, she thought it was a bug bite, but she saw no signs of a bite, so she rushed him to the emergency room.
There, she was horrified when an x-ray showed that his leg was broken. The doctor in the ER assured her that, because Brayden was a fragile preemie, the break could easily have happened from a diaper change. He told her,
“It happens all the time.”
A social worker came in to talk to her a few minutes, and reportedly told her that there was nothing to worry about. Doctors put an ace bandage on his leg, recommended follow-up with his pediatrician the next day, and sent them home.
Keshia says that she was heart-broken over that fracture, and felt like a failure, questioning herself: “HOW could this happen?” But this was only the beginning of her nightmare.
Bad News at the Pediatrician’s Office
While Keshia and her grandmother were on their way to the pediatrician’s office the next day, Keshia received a phone call from the sheriff’s office asking her to come in. The young mother “didn’t think anything of it,” assuming this was a routine follow-up after her son’s injury. She told them that she would come in after the pediatrician’s appointment.
When they arrived at the pediatrician’s office, they found the doctor in tears. She asked Keshia what had happened. The young mother explained about his leg, but the doctor asked,
“What about the others?”
Keshia was confused and asked what she meant. The pediatrician replied that Brayden had 15 fractured ribs. Keshia reports that she was devastated and heartbroken. She couldn’t understand this at all. She says that he was never even fussy, unless he had a dirty diaper or was hungry.
“I fell apart. From that moment on, I didn’t hear another word she said. I was crying hysterically.”
She says that she knew immediately that something was wrong and wanted to take her son back to East Tennessee Hospital where he was born and in the NICU, to see if they could figure out what was going on. Her pediatrician wrote a letter for her stating that there was no abuse suspected, based on her experience with the family and numerous visits, with no bruising or other signs of abuse noted, and that the parents wished to take Brayden to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
Interrogated, Then Forced to go to “Child Abuse” Expert
At that point, Chris left work to meet his family, and they all went to the sheriff’s department, where both parents were interrogated. The sheriff directed the couple to take Brayden to Dr. Deborah Lowen at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, a 2 and a half hour drive away, instead of the Knoxville hospital where doctors knew Brayden and his history. The Turners were told that they could choose to go to Vanderbilt, or they would be forced to go.
“We of course agreed to take him.”
Unbeknownst to the family at the time, Dr. Deborah Lowen is a Child Abuse Specialist, and the head of the Child Abuse team at Vanderbilt.
Over the next 3 days, Dr. Lowen and DCF investigators informed the family that both of Brayden’s arms and legs had been broken as well, and there were a total of 33 fractures. They later learned that there was also a spinal compression fracture.
Keshia says that all she could do was cry.
Dr. Lowen and the team reportedly told the Turners that:
“the only way these fractures could have happened was for an adult to have violently squeezed and shaken him on numerous occasions.”
She told them that there was force used, that the baby had to have been jerked, twisted, and slammed down, in order for the injuries to occur. The Turners deny that any of those behaviors took place, and want to know why the doctors looked no further for the cause of their son’s condition.
Dr. Lowen, in an article published AAP News titled “Pediatricians have a duty to recognize, respond to potential child abuse,” wrote in 2011:
Bruises on an infant who is not yet cruising indicate that a force has acted upon that child – the baby didn’t cause the bruise on him or herself.
However, it is now well-known that this is an untrue medical statement. There are many medical causes for brittle bones in infants leading to bruising and fractures that do not involve parental abuse. Doctors and medical professionals have spoken out against quick diagnosis of “Shaken Baby Syndrome” where parents are assumed to have abused their children simply based on evidence of bruises and broken bones. For more information on this topic see:
Dr. Deborah Lowen has publicly stated that parents today are not equipped to raise their children without interference of medical experts like herself:
“Sadly, our society seems to believe that primary caregivers should be able to parent as they see fit, without interference.” (Source.)
When a pediatrician becomes a “Child Abuse Specialist” who presumably no longer sees children in well-baby visits like most pediatricians, but now only is called in to review cases where child abuse is suspected, is society best being served in protecting children from legitimate abuse, or have we become so specialized in medical care that the diagnosis is necessary to retain the job of the specialist?
Dr. Lowen, and presumably other “Child Abuse Specialists” like her, seem to start out with a belief that most parents in society today are not fit to be parents, and are abusing their children.
Furthermore, research shows us that our nation’s leading social problems, mental health issues and even physical diseases are often rooted in childhoods riddled with abuse, neglect and family dysfunction. (Source.)
DCF Steps In and Seizes Custody of Brayden
Based on Dr. Lowen’s expert testimony, DCF allegedly informed the Turners that they would not be able to take their son home. Now, the former stay-at-home mom and her husband are only permitted a 1 hour visit with their baby per week, and are required to pay $650 per month for child support, as well as supply 50% of his needs. Keshia, now pregnant with her second child, has been forced to go back to work.
Parents Want to Know What Is Wrong With Their Baby
Keshia reports that Dr. Lowen told the family that it was a “classic case of shaken baby.” However, most of the classic symptoms of shaken baby syndrome – neck injuries, retinal hemorrhaging, and brain swelling – were not present. Later, Keshia’s attorney asked Dr. Lowen if she said this, but she reportedly denied ever saying anything about shaken baby.
Knowing her own family history of several relatives being told that they had weak bones, Keshia asked for the doctors to test her son. Keshia, her grandmother, and other family members have scoliosis, and degenerative disk and joint diseases run in both Keshia’s and Chris’s families. She also reports that both Brayden and she had low levels of Vitamin D, but the doctors called the levels normal.
Dr. Lowen told Keshia that they had tested him, but Keshia later learned that only minimal testing had been done, and none for many of the conditions that could actually be the culprit.
Vanderbilt: No Need for Testing
Keshia spends many hours online, researching and digging to find answers. Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), or brittle bone disease, is one possibility, as is Ehlers Danlos syndrome, which is a connective tissue disorder, affecting the joints, and often causing broken bones in infants.
Expert Dr. Eugene Wilson, chairman of the Center for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Alliance (Facebook page here), met with Keshia when he was in Tennessee allegedly to testify in another case refuting an accusation of another family by Dr. Deborah Lowen. When he looked at all of Brayden’s medical records and his x-rays, Keshia reports that he told her:
“most of the fractures, so-called fractures, aren’t even fractures.”
To date, there have been no tests for osteogenesis imperfecta or Ehlers Danlos syndrome performed on Brayden. Nor have there been any genetic tests done to check for genetic markers. The Turners report that doctors at Vanderbilt refused to do the testing, citing that there was no need for it.
Determined to Find Answers and Get Their Son Back
Instead, a baby has been forcibly taken from his parents, and only sees them once a week. The formerly breastfed baby was abruptly weaned and given formula. Their family has been torn apart, and needed medical testing and treatment has allegedly not been done.
The Turners were recently told by DCF that Brayden is developing normally, and can sit up by himself. However, the parents do not see that. Brayden is always happy to see them and appears on track in his mental development, but, at 9 months, he cannot sit up without support, and is still somewhat floppy. He isn’t crawling, and his head control is still not what it should be.
His mother firmly believes something is wrong with her baby, but she believes the accusation of abuse has stopped the authorities from figuring out what is truly going on with him.
“I’ll never give up till the day I die. I’ll get him back. He’ll be home.”
There have been no charges filed against the couple, although the allegations focus on Keshia, because she was with Brayden 24/7. Keshia says that she understands why the authorities had to investigate, and that her son’s injuries truly do look bad. However, she believed in the American justice system, that they would investigate fully and find out that she was innocent.
What she has learned, however, is that things work differently in the child protective system. She, like many other parents, has found that it is opposite from the way she was taught in school, that parents in the system are guilty until proven innocent, and that there seems to be no interest in investigating to prove parents innocent.
People ask Keshia how she is still sane through all that she is going through. She says that her faith in God has been her rock, and points to Romans 8:28:
“My answer is: I know God’s doing this for a reason. Something good will come of this.”
When all of this is over, she is determined to make it her life’s mission:
“to make sure that no innocent parents go through what I have gone through.”
How You Can Help
There is a Facebook page set up for the family called Justice for Braydenn, for supporters to follow the Turners’ story and help.
Their preliminary hearing is set for August 4, 2015. According to attorney Connie Reguli, Tennessee state law requires that the preliminary hearing occur within 3 days of a child’s removal. Brayden was 3 months old when he was taken from his parents. By the time the very first hearing takes place, he will be 11 months old.
Supporters are asked to contact legislators on behalf of the family.
The Representative for the Turners’ district is Rep. Cameron Sexton. He may be reached at (615) 741-2343, or contacted here.
Senator Paul Bailey is the Senator for their district. He may be reached at (615) 741-3978, or contacted here.
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