Dallas, TX – A mother, who spent eight years trying to convince medical personnel and family court judges that her young son was terminally ill, has finally been arrested for abusing the child.
Investigators think the case is one of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, where a caregiver manufactures an illness or injury in a person under their care, WBIR reported.
Kaylene Bowen-Wright, 34, was arrested on Dec. 6, after she subjected her 8-year-old son Christopher to 323 medical examinations and 13 major surgeries throughout his short lifetime, The Star-Telegram reported.
At various points, Christopher was placed on supplemental oxygen full-time, used a wheelchair, and was subjected to an invasive feeding tube that led to potentially fatal blood infections on three separate occasions, FOX News reported.
Bowen-Wright tried to have her son placed on a lung transplant list, falsely claimed that Christopher was dying from a rare genetic disorder, and had him receiving hospice care.
Later, she claimed that the boy was battling terminal cancer, and even cut his hair to help create the illusion that he was receiving treatment.
Bowen-Wright’s years of deception came to a head in November, when she took Christopher to a Children’s Medical Center Dallas.
She claimed that the boy had sustained a seizure that lasted for seven minutes, and emergency room staff reported having witnessed Christopher’s “general and full body shake.”
But when medical testing indicated that the child had not experienced any seizure activity, doctors grew suspicious and reached out to medical personnel in Houston, who had treated Christopher in the past.
“I am very concerned that mother has moved from exaggerating symptoms to inducing symptoms,” Children’s Medical Center Dallas Dr. Suzanne Dakil wrote in a report later obtained by Child Protective Services (CPS).
“If mother has given Chris something to induce a seizure, this is potentially fatal,” Dr. Dakil continued. “At this point, I am very concerned for his welfare.”
The doctor’s concerns were forwarded to CPS, which launched an investigation and removed Christopher, and his two half-siblings, from Bowen-Wright’s care.
Christopher’s father, Ryan Crawford, said he is relieved that his son is now safe, but expressed frustration that the court repeatedly disregarded him when he disputed Bowen-Wright’s claims about their child’s health in the past.
“It was always the same story: Christopher is dying,” Crawford told The Star-Telegram. “The father doesn’t need to be around because he doesn’t know how to take care of him. Every time I went to court, they made me feel like I was the worst human ever.”
“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 continued. “The system has to be exposed – all the weaknesses that are in the system – because the kids don’t deserve that.”
According to CPS, Bowen-Wright claimed she was unable to work because her son required constant medical care. She said she received food stamps, was on Medicaid, and received a monthly disability check on Christopher’s behalf.
Investigators also learned that Bowen-Wright used Christopher’s false ailments to solicit thousands of dollars in online donations.
Although Christopher is currently in foster care, Crawford said he is allowed to visit his son once a week, and that he is working to gain full custody.
“I told him how much I loved him,” Crawford said. “I told him I’d been praying to God for eight years for this moment.”
Crawford said that Christopher no longer has a feeding tube, and that the only medication he is taking is for his legitimate allergies.
“You would think my son would be so screwed up. Obviously mentally, he’s going to need some counseling,” Crawford said. “But he is so sweet, so nice, so playful. You wouldn’t think that he had gone through all this abuse.”
Bowen-Wright has been charged with injury to a child with serious bodily injury.
She is being held at the Dallas County Jail on $150,000 bond.