This story is about suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Maya Kowalski, the young woman at the center of a case of alleged medical abuse of a child in Florida that drove her mother to suicide and inspired the Netflix documentary “Take Care of Maya,” testified about her experience Monday.
When Maya, who was diagnosed with a rare condition called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), was 10 years old in 2016, she was admitted to hospital. Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital (JHAC) in St. Petersburg for severe pain.
Hospital staff suspected her parents of “medical abuse” and contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), who separated Maya from her parents while she was hospitalized.
“It was actually incredibly cruel, the amount of time they gave me to spend with my family after hearing such horrible news,” Maya testified Monday in a Sarasota County courtroom.
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Maya’s mother, Beata Kowalski, hanged herself in her garage on Jan. 7, 2016, after going months without seeing her daughter due to allegations of medical abuse, according to the family’s attorney, Greg Anderson.
Maya, in court, wearing a necklace she had given to her mother, broke down on the stand as she described how she felt something was wrong just before learning of her mother’s suicide.
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“At two in the morning, I burst into tears. I was crying uncontrollably,” she testified, adding that she then called a nurse for help. “I told him, ‘I miss my mother, I miss my mother, I love my mother. I want to go home to my mother.’ It turns out she ended her life.”
The day before Beata’s suicide, Maya said she remembered her mother telling her, “I love you and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I never saw her again,” Maya testified.
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Kowalski also became emotional as she described her relationship with her younger brother and how he also struggled with his illness.
“Take care of Maya” the Netflix documentary about the medical abuse allegations that tore the Kowalski family apart, follows Maya and Beata, a registered nurse, as they navigate Maya’s CRPS and different treatments for her health condition. According to the Cleveland Clinic, CRPS is a poorly understood condition that causes severe pain throughout a person’s body due to nervous system dysfunction.
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His symptoms included “episodes” of severe pain in his limbs and skin lesions. Her feet also turned inward when she suffered from CRPS episodes, a common reflex among CRPS patients.
Maya’s father sued JHAC and the medical staff assigned to treat his daughter in 2018, alleging that the hospital falsely accused Beata of medically abusing Maya and failing to properly care for her daughter, causing emotional distress in his family.
Beata, who took notes documenting Maya’s illness due to her experience as a registered nurse, insisted to doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital that Maya had been diagnosed with CRPS and that doses of ketamine helped relieve his pain.
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The hospital staff, in turn, suspected Beata of medically abusing her daughter when she demanded that the staff allow Maya to take ketamine to relieve her pain. It’s an accusation the hospital still maintains after a Sarasota County court determined staff had reasonable grounds to suspect abuse.
“This Court has determined that Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital reported alleged abuse of Maya Kowalski in good faith,” a Sept. 12 request for special jury instructions states. “Neither Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital nor Catherine Bedy can be held legally responsible for this report.”
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JHAC did not immediately respond to a request from Fox News Digital about Maya’s testimony Monday, but the hospital previously told Fox News Digital in a statement that the hospital’s priority is “always safety and security.” confidentiality” of its “patients and their families”.
“Therefore, we follow federal privacy laws that limit the amount of information we can disclose regarding a particular case. Our first responsibility is always to the child in our care, and we are legally required to notify (DCF) when we detect signs of possible abuse or neglect,” the hospital said. “It is DCF that investigates the situation and makes the final decision as to what course of action to take in the best interest of the child.”
Maya claimed Monday that hospital staff would accuse her of making up symptoms and told her her complaints were in her “head.”
Doctors called DCF to report their suspicions of medical abuse. Maya was placed in the care of child protective services worker Catherine Bedy, who no longer works at JHAC, while Maya was hospitalized for months without seeing her parents.
Maya recalled on Monday a 48-hour period when she was in DCF custody, during which she was placed in an isolated room.
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“They left me there for 48 hours under surveillance, which they didn’t tell me about,” she testified. “They had a dresser in there, and they put it just far enough from the bed. So I had to physically get up and go to the bathroom. I called the nurses every time I had to go to the bathroom because, obviously, I I can’t walk. And when they wouldn’t help me go to the toilet, I would defecate on myself.
Nearly five years after the Kowalskis’ lawsuit was filed and seven years since Maya was initially admitted to JHAC, both sides will present their arguments in court.