Contributed to TLB by: Health Impact News and Medical Kidnap
October 24, 2014, was a day that changed the Walls family forever. Jason Walls became alarmed when after feeding his new born, Makenzie, she turned white, became limp and was not breathing normally. Jason and Mattie Walls frantically called 911 and waited for a terrifying half hour for the ambulance to arrive. The emergency medical technicians (EMT) reported that there was no trauma or abnormalities to baby Makenzie during their examination. Makenzie was taken to Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina.
Jason Walls stated that,
“shortly after we arrived at the hospital, her breathing became normal. An emergency room doctor noticed that Makenzie’s left leg had begun to swell. Our baby’s leg was not swollen at home or on the ambulance ride.”
Like any concerned parents, Jason and Mattie authorized x-rays to be performed on Makenzie. Jason said that the emergency room doctor came back into the hospital room and told them that Makenzie’s femur was fractured. Jason and Mattie were completely horrified and asked doctors how could this have happened?
Difficult Pregnancy After Several Miscarriages
Jason and Mattie Walls had tried for six years to have a baby and suffered several devastating miscarriages. When Mattie Walls became pregnant again in February 2014, they were very excited and hopeful that Mattie would be able to carry their child full term. Mattie, who has “a mild intellectual disability,” had a difficult pregnancy and was monitored very closely by her physician, Dr. Thomas Roesch, with Laurel Center for Women, in Greenville, South Carolina.
Mattie was on several medications which her physician chose to keep her on throughout her pregnancy, including: Progesterone, Prilosec, Zofran, Procardia, and Seroquel. Dr. Roesch diagnosed Mattie with polyhydramnios at 28 weeks. Polyhydramnios is a condition seen in only about 1% of pregnancies, where there is an excess of amniotic fluid. This condition can be associated with fetal anomalies which range from minor to major. Polyhydramnios increases the risk of problems during the birth, including cord prolapse, placental abruption, premature birth and perinatal death. Further, the baby should be checked for congenital abnormalities at delivery when the mother has polyhydramnios.
Mother Diagnosed with Deficiencies During Pregnancy with Makenzie
When Mattie was 33 weeks into her pregnancy, Dr. Roesch told her that the placenta was no longer supporting her baby and diagnosed her with Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). IUGR refers to poor growth of a fetus while in the mother’s womb during pregnancy. IUGR can lead to low birth weight, preterm delivery, and neonatal death, as well as indicate the possibility of genetic/chromosomal abnormalities. It contributes to the baby being malnourished at birth.
Polyhydramnios is actually more likely to be associated with EXCESS fetal growth, not IUGR. One PubMed study says that polyhydramnios and IUGR together are an “ominous combination.” (Study here). In this study, 38% of the babies with this combination were born with chromosomal abnormalities, and 92% of these babies had major anomalies. This combination alone should have alerted the Walls’ physicians to be on the alert for issues in the presence of such strong indicators of potential problems.
Additionally, according to Mattie, she was diagnosed with several vitamin deficiencies during her pregnancy, including iron and Vitamin D. Finally, when Mattie was 35 weeks pregnant, the doctor became concerned about the baby’s heart rate during an appointment, and decided shortly after to induce labor.
Makenzie Born with Bruises on her Head, Shoulder, and Arm
On October 1, 2014, the Walls’ miracle baby was born four weeks early, following a very difficult delivery at Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina. Labor was induced at 6:00 am and Jason Walls remembers that his wife seemed to push for hours and the baby became stuck in the birth canal. Finally, Dr. Roesch decided to do an emergency Cesarean section (C-section). When Makenzie was born, Jason exclaimed, “She was as blue as a Smurf!” He also noticed that “there were bruises on both sides of her head, left shoulder and arm.” The Walls later reviewed the doctor’s delivery report and discovered that the umbilical cord had been wrapped around Makenzie twice during the delivery, which may occasionally present problems.
Jason and Mattie were very concerned for Makenzie, but they were new parents and the medical staff did not seem disturbed about the bruises. The Walls felt extremely joyful that they had a beautiful baby girl.
The Walls family – overjoyed with their new baby. Source: Bring Home Makenzie Facebook group
Doctor Brushes Off Parents’ Concerns, Refuses to X-Ray
Jason and Mattie took baby Makenzie to Parkside Pediatrics, a large medical facility with a team of 13 doctors in two locations, Greenville and Simpsonville, South Carolina. Makenzie was seen by Parkside five times in 22 days because she was a premature baby, and because the parents were concerned with bruising from delivery and occasional wheezing. According to Jason, he requested x-rays of Makenzie during an appointment with Parkside. Dr. Justin Dukes explained that “bruising during delivery is common and there is no need to do x-rays.”
The Walls were also very concerned with Makenzie’s wheezing and the doctor stated, again, that this is normal for a newborn trying to expel amniotic fluid from his/her lungs. Jason and Mattie did not press the issue because the doctors know what is best, or so they thought.
Child Abuse Specialist Dr. Nancy Henderson Called In
Makenzie was barely 3 weeks old when she had to be rushed to the emergency room because she went limp and stopped breathing normally after being fed. After she arrived at the emergency room of Greenville Memorial Hospital, her leg began to swell. She was subsequently diagnosed with a broken femur, and the treating physician called in a pediatric child abuse specialist, Dr. Nancy Henderson.
Dr. Nancy Henderson – Child Abuse Specialist. Image from YouTube.
This is, in fact, the same pediatric doctor who was involved with the removal of four children from William and Danielle Headley in Spartanburg, South Carolina:
Dr. Henderson ordered a full body scan of Makenzie, the same thing that the parents had requested of Parkside Pediatrics weeks earlier. Mattie stated:
Dr. Earl C. Troup, a neurologist, and Dr. Henderson came back into our room two hours later and said they had missed some broken bones. Dr. Henderson told us that she has a tibia and a L2 vertebrae fracture.
I just busted out in tears and wanted to know what was going on. Dr. Henderson said this is non-accidental trauma, and the doctors refused to let us see x-rays of the other broken bones.
Social Worker Tells New Mother: “She Belongs to Us Now”
On October 25, 2014, to Jason and Mattie’s dismay, Dr. Nancy Henderson called in child protective services, which in Laurens County, SC, is known as the Department of Social Services (DSS). Mattie reports that, though they knew that she was disabled, the emergency social worker, Christie Harris, accompanied by Laurens County Sheriff’s Department Investigator, Chris Martin, waited until Jason left the hospital and confronted Mattie alone.
There are federal laws protecting the rights of parents with disabilities (Source), but those are not always followed, as in the ongoing case of Tracey and Freddie Verzosa, who are continuing to fight for their children. See:
According to Mattie,
Chris Martin, Christie Harris and 4 other cops put me in a room and demanded that I sign a paper giving the State custody of Makenzie.
Mattie refused to sign the papers in front of her and demanded:
This doesn’t make sense, I want to know what is going on!
Chris Martin reportedly told Mattie that it doesn’t matter if you sign the papers, we are taking your baby anyway.
I asked him if I could please say goodbye to my daughter?
She was allowed to say goodbye to Makenzie and remembers how heartbroken she was.
Makenzie grabbed my finger like she always does. My dad held her and we were both on the floor crying.
Mattie begged them to let her mom and dad stay with Makenzie and she reports:
Christie Harris told me, “No ma’am. She belongs to us now.”
Mattie and her parents, Dwayne and Barbara Anderson, were escorted from the hospital with Makenzie’s empty car seat.
Jason and Mattie Walls were given Emergency Protective Custody (EPC) paperwork on Saturday, October 25, 2014. The Walls received a summons for a 72 hour Probable Cause Hearing on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, where the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) presents evidence on the circumstances leading to the child removal. Additionally, the summons notified them of the First Call Merits Hearing on November 20, 2014, where SCDSS is supposed to present a Treatment Plan or asks the court to forego reasonable efforts to reunite the family.
The family could only afford one lawyer at this time and hired Richard W. Allen to represent Jason. Mattie was provided a public defender, Kimberly Brooks.
Laurens County DSS Refuses to Allow Parents to Get a Second Medical Opinion
On October 28, 2014, Laurens County DSS held a Family Team Meeting, which, according to the report, summarizes family and CPS safety concerns/risks. The report states:
The father and mother are concerned that the child may possibly have a brittle bone disease (OI) and would like a second opinion.
According to Jason and Mattie, DSS would not allow them to get a second medical opinion. Mattie recalls that on November 20, 2015 during the Merits Hearing:
DSS tried to terminate our parental rights, but my lawyer argued that we had the right to prove our case.
Jason and Mattie Lose Their Precious Makenzie and Are Thrown in Jail
On January 16, 2015, three months following the removal of Makenzie, Laurens County Sheriff’s Department Investigator, Chris Martin, came to the Walls home with a search warrant for evidence. Jason reports that he cordially invited Mr. Martin to sit at his kitchen table.
He was sitting at my table and he told me we are trying to charge you with unlawful neglect of a child or helpless person. And one or both of you caused the child’s injuries.
Jason was completely shocked and asked:
Why are you trying to charge anyone?
Jason and Mattie received a phone call from their lawyer on January 17, 2015 instructing them to turn themselves in to Laurens County Sheriff’s Department, where they were officially charged and put in jail. The Walls remained in jail until January 21, 2015 when they arranged for a bond. Jason and Mattie not only lost their precious daughter, Makenzie, but were arrested and thrown in jail for four days.
Mattie’s parents, Dwayne and Barbara Anderson, obtained attorney Andrew G. Goodson and filed a motion to intervene, which was heard on February 2, 2015, by the Honorable John M. Rucker. The judge named the Andersons as defendants in the case and included them in all future proceeding. Jason and Mattie scraped enough money together to hire a private attorney for Mattie. On June 4, 2015 a Notice of Substitution of Counsel was filed and Edward S. McCallum, III, would represent Mattie for the remainder of the hearings. The final Merits/Termination of Parental Rights/Permanency Hearing was held on June 22, 23 and 24, 2015, Judge Joseph C. Smithdeal presiding. The final hearing was continued to August 17 and 18, 2015 to hear more witnesses.
After Jason and Makenzie bonded out of jail, they haven’t heard a word about any criminal charges being filed. No hearings have been scheduled. Mysteriously, the criminal allegations appear to have disappeared. But their troubles with CPS were just getting started.
Orthopedic Expert Dr. Doug Benson – Doctors Missed Numerous Warning Signs, Provided “Substandard Care”
Jason and Mattie sought out an expert to evaluate Makenzie’s medical records, Dr. Doug Benson, an orthopedic surgeon certified by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Dr. Benson provided a report that is dated July 6, 2015. Dr. Benson reviewed the medical records and x-ray images of Makenzie Walls pro bono and stated that he is not associated with the parents, any attorneys, social workers or anyone involved in this case. The report begins with his background in the long time study of bone development, bone healing, modeling and remodeling. He also states that he traveled abroad from years 2002 to 2008, studying infantile rickets and metabolic bone disorders. Dr. Benson has consulted on infants and children with Vitamin D Deficiency Rickets, Hypophosphatemic Rickets, Hypophosphatasia and Vitamin C deficiency. He served as the Director of Orthopedic Trauma at Enloe Medical Center, in Chico, California, from 2009-2014.
After his review of the medical records and x rays, expert Dr. Benson concluded:
Makenzie was born severely anemic at birth and had an elevated white count and elevated bilirubin. The medical records and x ray images do not support the allegations of child abuse. There are several risk factors for the mother having an infant with inadequate mineralized bone that were ignored or were not recognized.
Dr. Benson stated that the mother took Progesterone from the 4th to 14th week of pregnancy, which is known to interfere with infant fetal skeletal mineralization, as well as Prilosec and antacids. The report also states:
The chronic subdural hematoma and bilateral skull fractures noted on the CT scan almost certainly date back to birth. Makenzie Walls had inadequate mineralization which is confirmed by her Vitamin D deficiency of 18. The very proximal fracture of her left femur is not likely to have been caused by inflicted trauma because of proximity to the hip joint and lack of bruising of skin. The skull shows inadequate mineralization of the mandible and hollow appearing primary teeth that appear “shell like”, this is evidence of inadequate mineralization during the 16th and 24th week of prenatal life. This results in fragile bones and is consistent with the other bone findings. The ribs show flared rib ends. This is evidence of inadequate mineralization. Flared rib ends are found in Rickets of which Vitamin D deficiency is by far the most common, Vitamin C deficiency and congenital syphilis. All three of these conditions result in an infant with bones that are fragile.
The report by Dr. Benson explains in detail all of the findings of the hospital in the x-ray images and ties them to fragile bones, based on his vast amount of experience in this field. He cites an American Pediatric Association report that makes it clear that investigation of metabolic causes, such as rickets or osteogenesis imperfecta, is not only expected in cases like Makenzies with “unexplained fractures,” but failure to do so is considered “substandard care.” In the end of his report, Dr. Benson states:
I am sure of this and would testify to it under oath.
Dr. Benson’s report was not accepted or entered into court as evidence.
Parental Rights Terminated, Parents Appealing
On August 18, 2015, to the utter bewilderment and shock of the entire family, Judge Joseph Smithdeal terminated Jason and Mattie’s parental rights. The Termination of Parental Rights, or TPR, will be appealed by the family’s attorneys when the TPR paperwork is signed by Judge Smithdeal.
The family support for Makenzie has been exceptional. Mattie’s parents, Dwayne and Barbara Anderson, hired a lawyer and have continued to fight for the custody of their granddaughter Makenzie. Jason’s mother, Carol Young, took parenting classes along with Jason and Mattie, and continues to support these new parents. The family has allegedly taken actions above and beyond what Laurens County DSS and the Family Court has asked of them in order to get their baby Makenzie back with her family.
Supporters are asking for help in the fight for baby Makenzie by making phone calls showing support and demanding changes.
The Governor of South Carolina is Nikki R. Haley, who may be reached at 803-734-2100803-734-2100. She may be contacted here.
Their State Representative is Daniel B. (Danny) Verdin, III -District 9 – Greenville & Laurens Counties – He can be contacted here.
Laurens County South Carolina Department of Social Services, Director Byron Dendy https://dss.sc.gov/content/about/counties/counties.aspx?ID=30