Steffen and parents

Baby Steffen’s parents do not want to take him off life support. They want to give him a chance to live. Photo provided by the family.

UPDATE 7/15/2018

Parents of Down Syndrome Baby Euthanized by Vanderbilt Hospital Expose Lies of Social Workers in Court

UPDATE  6/7/2018

7-Year-Old Sister of Down Syndrome Baby Euthanized by Vanderbilt Hospital Still Not Returned to Family – State Wants Her Adopted

UPDATE  3/20/2018

Tennessee Family Seeks Lawsuit for Malpractice, Negligence, and Wrongful Death Over Down Syndrome Baby Taken Off of Life Support

UPDATE  8/3/2017

Tennessee Sister of Baby Steffen Traumatized Seeing Dad Arrested During Chuck E. Cheese Visit

UPDATE  7/17/2017

Tennessee Parents of Baby Steffen Jailed While Appearing in Court and Questioning Drug Test

UPDATE  7/12/2017

Tennessee Family Buries Baby Steffen as Social Workers Stop Photos – Sister Still in Foster Care

UPDATE  7/6/2017

Tennessee Family Wants Daughter and Sister of Deceased Baby Steffen to Come Home

UPDATE  6/20/2017

Judge Who Ordered Baby Steffen to be Removed from Life Support Orders Sister be Placed for Adoption

UPDATE  6/13/2017

Family Seeks Answers on Baby’s Death – Threatened Arrest for Trying to Record Last Moments of Life

UPDATE  6/6/2017

Civil Rights Abuse? Judge Only Gives Parents 24 Hours to Find Doctor Before Baby is Removed from Life Support

UPDATE 2 – 6/3/2017

Grandma Lisa took this video of Baby Steffen responding to her voice and touch today, and after recording it, she told Health Impact News that the head nurse told her she could no longer record:

UPDATE – 6/3/2017

Baby Scheduled to go Off Life Support Responding to Family – Rally and Court Date on Monday Morning

UPDATE 4 – 5/30/2017

WSMV Channel 4 Nashville has now covered the story:

Judge orders hospital to keep baby on life support

They had contacted us at Health Impact News to get in contact with the family, since we broke the story.

UPDATE 3 – 5/30/2017

Judge Grimes, the judge standing in for Judge Wayne Shelton today, granted the injunction until June 6th at noon. At that time, Judge Shelton, who is more familiar with the case, will make a ruling. The family is hopeful that things will turn around for the baby by then.

The family is requesting that DCS allow the family more time to visit the baby.

Here is a copy of today’s court order.

UPDATE 2 – 5/30/2017

Health Impact News has just learned that the grandma, Lisa, has been asked to leave the hospital room where Baby Steffen is staying:

DCS social workers, Deanna and Serena, just came into the hospital room and told the grandmother that Heather Wyatt, DCS supervisor in Clarksville, called and said that Lisa is only allowed in the room an hour and a half every other day, and they escorted her out of the hospital room and unit. But they have allowed the foster mother and the sitter service lady is still allowed to be there.

The DCS main office number is (615) 741-9701. Supervisor Heather Wyatt’s cell phone is 931 905 3800.

The parents, meantime, are waiting for the judge to return to court from lunch at 1:30 p.m. local time.

UPDATE 1 – 5/30/2017

There are reports on social media from some who have called the governor’s office, that DCS no longer has custody of the baby, but Health Impact News has not been able to confirm this.

A family member has reported to Health Impact News:

Before 10 am, they “clamped” the machine, but he didn’t do well, so they hooked him back up.

One person on Facebook has commented:

Vanderbilt will do it or they will withhold comfort measures. That’s how they made us consent to pulling my daughter off. Lawyers won’t take them on, hospitals won’t take a transfer once they make this decision, and Vanderbilt doctors have no heart. They even admitted they messed up is why my daughter was dying. They won’t win this.

Health Impact News has not confirmed anything in this particular comment, but you can read other stories of medical kidnapping we have published involving Vanderbilt Hospital at the bottom of this article.

The parents are reportedly on their way to court with their attorney seeking a Restraining Order.

If indeed the decision to stop life support rests in the hands of the hospital, this is a public, non emergency number, we have found:

Patient Relations: (615) 322-6154

For assistance, non-medical questions or complaints. This line is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you are calling outside of these hours, listen to the recorded message carefully. Press zero for the Vanderbilt operator and request the Children’s Hospital Administrator on call.

We will continue to provide updates as they come in.

Medically Kidnapped Baby Scheduled for Execution TODAY!

by Health Impact News/ Staff 

Doctors at Vanderbilt Hospital in Tennessee want to take a baby off of life support Tuesday, May 30. His family is fighting for his very life. They believe that there is still hope for 7 month old Steffen Rivenburg Jr., who was born with heart defects but was not sick until after Child Protective Services seized custody of him and his older sister on February 2.

His mother Patricia Tornberg told Health Impact News that, even though he is very sick now:

I feel like he can make a turn-around. My husband and I want to give him a chance by keeping him on life support.

After baby Steffen was taken from his parents and placed into foster care, he caught a very serious viral infection on February 17 which caused damage to his heart. A heart surgery that the parents were told would not be needed until he was 6 months old became necessary on February 23. That was followed by 3 more heart surgeries and other procedures on his tiny body.

Patricia and Steffen Rivenburg Sr. have told the hospital and the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) that they refuse to consent to taking their son off of life support, but the doctors reportedly plan to unplug him by noon on Tuesday, May 30th.

He is currently hooked up to an ECMO machine – extracoporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or a heart-lung bypass machine. According to, the ECMO machine is used with serious, but reversible, heart or lung problems, and with the machine, the survival rate “can rise up to 60 percent.” Steffen’s family just wants that chance for him.

Steffen on life support 2

Baby Steffen on life support Monday night, May 29. Photo provided by the family.

Born with Heart Defects But Thriving Before Taken by DCS

Steffen Jr. was born at Vanderbilt Hospital on October 15, 2016, with Down Syndrome and congenital heart defects, including Atrioventricular Septal Defect (AVSD), and pulmonary stenosis. By 3 months of age, Tetrology of Fallot was suspected but not yet diagnosed. Doctors told his parents that he would require heart surgery at 6 months of age.

Despite his heart defects, he was thriving and doing well at home with his parents and big sister, Annalise, who was in first grade.

Steffen kissed by big sissy

Big sissy kisses, before they were taken from their family. Photo provided by the family.

His parents missed 3 doctors appointments due to car troubles. Each one was rescheduled. One of these was for a voluntary visit with a Down Syndrome clinic.

Annalise missed some school in the meantime. Patricia and Steffen Sr. were in the process of searching for an “umbrella school” – a homeschool cover school that they could use in order to legally homeschool in the state of Tennessee. They recognized that the baby’s heart condition and upcoming surgeries created conditions under which homeschooling would work better for their family.

They never got the chance.

DCS Seizes Both Children on the Same Day

While Steffen Sr. and Patricia were at the hospital for a doctor visit on February 2, grandmother Lisa waited for Annalise to get off of the school bus. When she didn’t, Lisa began an all-out search, calling the school and neighbors. She learned that DCS had come to the school that day and seized her over truancy allegations.

Steffen Lisa and Sister

Lisa with her granddaughter Annalise. Photo supplied by the family.

At the same time, DCS came into Vanderbilt Hospital and seized 3 month old baby Steffen, alleging abuse over the 3 missed doctor appointments.

Baby Deteriorates Quickly In CPS Custody

Steffen and Annalise were placed with a foster family. Medical records show that the baby’s condition was stable at the time. In documents later filed with the court, Patricia states:

The child was fine and healthy, eating well and not choking prior to the DCS removal.

Steffen Pooh outfit

Baby Steffen in happier times. Photo provided by the family.

Immediately after the children were taken, they were given multiple vaccines. Steffen’s formula was changed as well.

Just 2 weeks later, on February 17, the foster mother brought Steffen to Vanderbilt reportedly for choking. He was admitted to intensive care where he was diagnosed with metapneumovirus, which he contracted AFTER being taken into state custody.

The serious infection caused damage to his already fragile heart. Heart surgery was now needed to place a shunt to increase the blood flow. The surgery was performed while Steffen was still sick and in a weakened state. Later, the shunt was removed.

Steffen after heart surgery at 4 months

Baby Steffen after heart surgery at 4 months – in state custody. Photo provided by the family.

He had a total of 4 heart surgeries within weeks of each other, per decisions made without the parents involvement. Patricia says that the hospital has made “a lot of mistakes” with her baby. He has now been on the ECMO machine for 5 weeks.

Lisa believes that:

He was being used as a lab rat at a medical university.

Now, doctors are reportedly telling the family that his heart muscle is too hard and that he will not survive.

Vanderbilt Hospital has denied a heart transplant for him.

Family Is Praying for God to Heal Baby

Grandmother Lisa told Health Impact News that she believes that he will survive. She has a strong Christian faith, and she has already seen God work in her grandson’s body. She said that one day, Steffen’s diaper was filled with blood. A doctor reportedly told her that he had a hole in his intestine and that his colon was dead. Lisa prayed and spoke life to his body in the name of Jesus. She said the very next day, another doctor told her that there is no hole in his intestine and that his colon is not dead.

It is that faith that she is holding onto for little Steffen to pull through this also. A song that she holds onto is “Awake My Soul” by Chris Tomlin. Some of the lyrics are:

Breathe on me, breath of God, breathe on me
I come alive, I’m alive when you breathe on me

Awake, awake, awake my soul,
God resurrect these bones
From death to life, through you alone
Awake my soul

For some time, DCS refused to allow the family’s pastor to come to see the baby. He was finally permitted to come on Saturday, but DCS reportedly kicked him and Lisa out of the room.

She is concerned that people at Vanderbilt continually speak death over him. She said that, on Monday, there were flies on Steffen in the hospital room that they had to shoo away.

Yet, even during Monday night’s visit at the hospital, they saw signs of hope. Even though he was “heavily sedated,” Lisa said that:

He knows I am there. He squeezes my hand, and opens his eyes.

He is very active at times when [his parents, sister, and I] are present. Then they, what I call, juice him with narcotics and sedate him. Even then he fights it at times.

Steffen and mother

Baby Steffen fights for his life as his mama and family pray. Photo provided by the family.

She said that doctors told the family that their plan, the one they want the parents to consent to, is to give him a bunch of narcotics to “keep him comfortable” and then unplug him from the machines at noon on Tuesday.

They want to put him down like a dog!

I just cannot understand the breadth of power that DCS has that cannot be stopped. They have so much Title IV funding at their disposal.

Parents Fighting for Children; DCS Plans Adoption

Patricia and Steffen Sr. did the DCS required parenting classes in record time, completing them in just 3 days. They say that they have done everything that DCS has asked of them. They are also required to pay child support.

Yet, it has become apparent that the state had no intention of returning the children. They were placed into a foster home with a couple who posted a GoFundMe on January 31, 2 days before the children were placed with them, asking for donations to help them adopt. There are photos of Annalise and Steffen with their family on their Facebook page, and they have made it clear that they planned to adopt the children.

Patricia has filed documents protesting the DCS permanency plan which lists adoption as a goal. She says that the goal is very premature. She says that the portrayal of her children with the foster parents as part of “an adopted family”

suggests that this removal was a deliberate attempt by DCS and the placements to conspire to remove these children for the sole purpose of adoption and not try to reunify the Rivenburg family.

Lisa told us that DCS wants to do a psychological evaluation on Annalise. They are reportedly saying that she is getting into trouble “all the time.” Lisa says that the family never had problems with her before she was taken away from her family. She wants to know if the purpose of the psych evaluation is to put her on a bunch of psychotropic drugs.

How You Can Help!

First and foremost, the family requests prayer for baby Steffen. They are not ready to give up on him.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam may be reached at (615) 741-2001, or contacted here, to ask that life support be continued for Steffen Rivenburg Jr., to give him a chance to live. Governor Haslam is also on Facebook.

The Senator for their district is Dr. Mark Green. He may be reached at (615) 741-2374, or contacted here.

Their state Representative is Representative Joe Pitts. He may be reached at (615) 741-2043, or contacted here.

Other Medical Kidnapping stories involving Vanderbilt Hospital:

Baby Found with Broken Bones – Parents Assumed Guilty of Abuse and Lose Custody

Kentucky Baby Medically Kidnapped Along with Siblings and Forced on to Formula

Kentucky Family Falsely Accused of Child Abuse – Children Medically Kidnapped to Cover Corruption

Tennessee Mom Gives Birth to Premature Twins 3 Times – Surviving Babies Medically Kidnapped for Research?

Are New Pediatric “Child Abuse Specialists” Causing an Increase in Medical Kidnappings?

Child Abuse Pediatricians: An “Ethically Bankrupt” Profession that Destroys Families

Do you have a story about Vanderbilt University medical system? Contact us.