PHOENIX (AP) — The family of an 11-year-old leukemia patient whose mother unexpectedly took her from a Phoenix hospital last month has a history of removing the child from medical facilities against the advice of doctors, police said Wednesday as the parents claimed the girl was being treated in Mexico.
The child, Emily Bracamontes, had been receiving chemotherapy at Phoenix Children's Hospital for about a month before her mother removed her Nov. 28 while she was still being treated. An infection forced physicians to amputate her right arm and insert a catheter through her chest to deliver medications.
The child's mother removed an IV tube from the device and took her from the hospital, concerning doctors that she could succumb to a deadly infection, said police Sgt. Steve Martos.
Since then, Emily's parents have refused to provide police in Arizona with any information on the child's whereabouts or treatment, but her mother and father have asserted in television interviews that she is under the care of doctors in Mexico. The girl appeared in an interview Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America," the first time police have seen her since she was taken from the hospital.
"I am here, and it kind of feels good because the doctors really love me so much," said a bright-eyed and smiling Emily, who wore a pink, knitted cap in what appeared to be a medical facility that wasn't identified.
Martos said that until Emily's parents provide authorities with proof that the child is safe, their investigation will remain open, and criminal charges are still being considered, given what he called a troubling pattern of potential medical neglect.
He said the girl's father was in Phoenix on Wednesday and was interviewed by detectives but refused to provide any information about her whereabouts.
"There's a simple solution. Provide us with information that Emily is not at risk of dying due to infection," Martos told The Associated Press, adding that authorities are reviewing whether there is "some neglect or abuse on behalf of the parents if they're failing to provide proper medical care."
He said Emily's parents have previously twice removed her from separate California hospitals against the advice of her treating doctors, and that the child was in "unbelievably horrible medical shape" when she arrived last month at the Phoenix facility.
Border Patrol agents stopped the family's car in October as they were crossing from Mexico into Arizona and noticed Emily appeared extremely sick, Martos said. The child was immediately transported to a hospital in nearby Yuma, then flown to Phoenix Children's Hospital, he said.