Max with his mother. Photo supplied by family.

UPDATE 12/5/2014

The family has updated their situation on their Facebook Page.

by Christina England
Health Impact News

At this time of year, most families are looking forward to the festive season and preparing for Christmas. However, for one family, Christmas is the last thing on their minds. In the space of just a few months, they report how their lives have been torn apart by Child Protective Services (CPS).

Greg and Jasmine Eckenrode’s story began in July 2014, when they took their fifteen year old son Max, who suffers from Lyme disease, to Denver Hospital in Colorado, as he was suffering from severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

Max’s father, Greg, told Health Impact News that Max had been a sickly child from as far back as he could remember. He stated:

From a small child Max exhibited issues that didn’t make sense to me. He would want to ride in the grocery cart after a short time in the store. He wouldn’t carry a bag into the house. I thought he was being lazy. But we have since learned that he was tired.

Max would go for a bike ride with his friends and would call from a mile away for us to pick him up because he couldn’t ride back.

I coached him in baseball and bowling. He would suddenly sit down on the bench for no reason, frustrating me. He won the state bowling tournament in his first year of bowling. A few months later he was in a wheelchair because of severe leg pain. Doctors could find nothing wrong. MRI showed nothing.

We tried putting Max into a gifted school that fall. We were trying to get accommodations for him and his wheelchair when they had a lockdown drill. Police came into the school like someone attacking the school. The kids were frightened. Max’s anxiety from that caused him to collapse. He became bedbound. We tried again in early January but he still couldn’t function.

At the end of January he became sick with a fever and nausea. We took him to the hospital and they found that he had tachycardia. He was transferred to the same hospital that we went to in July where he was found to have POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome).

Lyme Disease Diagnosis

According to Greg, there are nine people in his family who suffer from Lyme disease, an illness causing joint pains, neurological problems, paralysis, numbness or weakness in the limbs, heart problems and severe fatigue.

Greg told Health Impact News that:

In 2012, my health was also slipping. I had stents put in, in 2011 because of a 99% blockage of a coronary artery, two months after being diagnosed with glaucoma. I was not having a good year.

In October, I completely collapsed, suffering from massive pain in my joints, leg pain, headaches, weakness, brain fog that was almost like Alzheimers or dementia. I was having the same issues as Max. I was completely disabled.

I saw a host of doctors who could figure out nothing. It wasn’t until my wife kept researching that we got a clue that it could be Lyme. We found two different doctors that treated Lyme. I went to one and took Max to the other. We were both tested positive.

Disagreement with Doctors – Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Label

However, despite having a confirmed diagnosis for Lyme disease, plus other life-threatening illnesses, the doctors treating Max for his stomach problems allegedly believed Max to be far more healthy than was being described.

Without having a full set of medical records, the physician in charge of Max’s case allegedly decided that Max was not as ill as his parents were saying and instead they were over-medicating him. Without vital reports and lacking the information required, according to Max’s parents, the “ill-informed physician” reported the family to Child Protective Services (CPS), portraying Mrs. Eckenrode as a mother suffering from Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP).

Father Arrested and Put in Prison


Max with his father Greg. Photo from Denver Family Services return Max Summers to his family Facebook Page.

Not knowing there was a problem, however, Jasmine and Max reportedly had gone to stay with friends in California while Greg remained at home to search for a more suitable home for the family.

After compiling their reports, CPS allegedly went to the family home, only to find that Max and his mother were not there. Concerned that the family had left the premises to avoid further involvement, CPS allegedly claimed custody of Max and issued warrants for the pair to be detained.

In court a few days later, Greg reports how he became confused with brain fog, a symptom of Lyme disease, and was unable tell the court where his family was residing. This allegedly resulted in him being sentenced to 180 days in prison, for being in contempt of court.

Greg told Health Impact News:

I have never been in trouble in my life. I never dreamed I would be in jail. I was allowed to call my office before I left the courtroom. I let my boss know what had happened.

In jail, I was put in the general population, but it took days to get my medication. My most critical medication didn’t get to me until day 8. I was dying in there. I have a strict diet because of my illness. They never did anything to address it, even though I filed multiple grievances. My meds are strictly scheduled and they routinely missed my schedule. My health slipped backwards at least a year during the 3 weeks I was there.

Doctors and Court Records Document Lyme Disease Diagnosis

In a statement allegedly presented to the courts by the Denver Department of Human Services (DDHS), as reported to Health Impact News by the parents, they allegedly stated:

“Ms. Eckenrode did furnish a few medical records and a packet of internet publications about the many diagnoses and syndromes that Max allegedly has. She refused to sign releases so more extensive medical records could be obtained. The undersigned caseworker was able to contact a doctor who is claimed to be Max’s primary care physician. This doctor did say that Max, as well as Ms. Eckenrode, have Lyme disease.”

In fact, Max’s doctor had not only confirmed that Max was suffering from Lyme disease, but according to Max’s parents, he also stated that he suffered from a range of other life-threatening disorders. In 2013, he allegedly wrote:

“Max is a patient of mine being treated for Chronic Lyme Borreliosis and comorbid infections as well as dysautonomia, endocrinopathies and toxic encephalopathy.

Max is also being treated by a pediatric cardiologist for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome secondary to his chronic inflammatory condition. Symptomatic treatment includes oxygen therapy, IV saline, fludrocortisone, physical therapy, beta blockers, and a mechanical wheelchair for mobility and transport.”

His report, allegedly written in June 2013, was a whole year before Mrs. Eckenrode was accused of MSBP. This doctor report allegedly completely confirmed the family’s story.

Colorado DDHS Takes Custody of Max Over Medical Disagreement

However, despite this report by the family’s doctor, and several other reports allegedly confirming Max’s diagnosis of Lyme Disease, the parents claim that DDHS made the following statement to justify taking custody of their son:

“The consulting physician for DDHS has reviewed the limited medical records made available and has expressed serious concern over Max’s psychological condition, seclusion, and possible medical mistreatment.”

According to Greg, the situation has left him homeless and on the streets after he lost his job and had all of his medical records and credit/debit cards subpoenaed by CPS. He told Health Impact News that his son currently resides with his sister and is without any appropriate medical care or financial support from the State of Colorado, who retains legal custody.

Terrified Mother Goes into Hiding

Greg also told Health Impact News that his wife, terrified of being jailed herself, has gone into hiding.

Greg had this to say on their Facebook Page just a few days ago:

“Our situation just keeps getting worse. Unemployment has been denied because I was thrown in jail. So being homeless just got worse. We had hoped to get into low income housing this week, but can’t even afford that. CPS still hasn’t done anything for Max. He is essentially trapped in our daughter’s basement with no support being given to our daughter or Max. We used some of our limited funds to drop off food for Thanksgiving. Still can’t see him.”

They have allegedly been left fighting for the return of their son and need all the help they can get.

The Eckenrode Family Needs Help!

There is a hearing scheduled for Max on December 5th. Here is the information according to the Facebook Page, and several have already said they plan to show up and support the family:

Max’s hearing is on Friday, Dec 5th at 10am.

The address is 520 West Colfax Ave, Rm 125, Denver, CO.

The family has also requested that others with experience in Lyme Disease should contact the Judge and Guardian ad Litem (it is too late to write letters before tomorrow’s hearing, so phone numbers are supplied):

Writing letters to the Magistrate & Guardian ad Litem will be a huge help for Max. Your letter can just be in support or if you have Lyme some testimony on the nature of the disease. Throw in an informational article if you can.

The Honorable Howard V. Bartlett
Denver Juvenile Court
520 West Colfax, Room 125
Denver, CO 80204

Guardian Ad Litem Zak Sloan
1325 S Colorado Blvd, #701
Denver, CO 80222
Phone number 303-692-1165

Also please visit the Denver Family Services return Max Summers to his family Facebook Page to offer support, and spread this story to as many people as possible.

Huffington Post has also covered this story:

Jailed for Lyme Disease. Really? Really.

Lyme Disease Information

For more information on Lyme disease and the controversy surrounding this, please go to the following links:

Success Treating Lyme Disease Naturally Without Antibiotic Drugs

CDC Finally Acknowledges Real Lyme Disease Rates to Create Market for New Vaccine

Genetic Factor Emerges as Key to Onset of Lyme Arthritis

Scientists step up hunt for bacterial genes tied to Lyme disease

For cases and information on Lyme disease and false accusations of Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy, please read:

Petra Heller

Justina Pelletier Case Emblematic of Difficulties Faced by Children with Rare Diseases

Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy and Lyme disease: Medical misogyny or diagnostic mystery?

Parents and Carers Against Medical Injustice