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4-Year Old Allegedly Spent Years In Hospital, Had Feeding Tube Inserted Needlessly
Authorities estimated that Megan Gee's 4-year-old son has spent 33 percent of his life in medical facilities in an apparent case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
A Texas mother, possibly suffering from mental illness, allegedly made up medical conditions for her 4-year-old son and needlessly forced the insertion of a feeding tube into his stomach, authorities said.
Megan Gee, of Wichita Falls, was charged on Sept. 25 with causing serious bodily injury to a child, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, citing the arrest warrant affidavit filed in Tarrant County Court last week.
Gee was released the next day on a $25,000 surety bond, jail records show. Attorney information for Gee was unavailable Tuesday.
She is believed to be suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a psychological condition in which caregivers fabricate medical condition for the people in their care, often children.
Gee allegedly forced almost 80 different kinds of medicines on her son, now 4, and had him seen by doctors more than 200 times. The boy spent almost 33 percent of his life in a medical facility, authorities allege.
But Gee's son, apparently, wasn’t sick at all.
Multiple doctors told a Tarrant County Sheriff's investigator that Gee had no reason to believe her son was sick, and that the boy showed little to no symptoms of any illnesses, Dallas-Fort Worth's local NBC affiliate NBCDFW reported.
The mother took her son to be evaluated by doctors at their offices or hospitals approximately 227 times, according to the station.
Authorities allege that Gee started taking her son locally to a Wichita Falls emergency room in 2016, so he could be treated for various digestive issues. However, doctors there were unable to detect any vomiting or diarrhea symptoms, according to The Star-Telegram's report on the affidavit.
Around the same time, Gee allegedly traveled with her son on longer trips to a Fort Worth hospital, where she asked doctors to evaluate the boy for seizures, vomiting and constipation. Doctors there ran tests for a number of diseases, but found nothing, the Star-Telegram reported.
Between 2015 and 2017, authorities alleged, Gee tried to convince doctors that her son stopped eating.
One of the doctors was Dr. Lyn Hunt of Cook’s Children’s Medical Center. In February 2016, Gee asked Hunt to surgically insert a feeding tube into her son, so he could be supplied with proper nutrients.
Hunt went ahead with the procedure, The Star-Telegram reported from the affidavit.
“If a mother tells you, ‘My child is not eating, he does all these things,’ and you’ve exhausted all the other possibilities, then a feeding tube is a way to get nutrition to a child that refuses to eat or can’t eat or vomits everything they eat,” Hunt told the outlet.
It also appears that, in 2017, Gee’s son was briefly removed from her home and placed into foster care after Child Protective Services opened and then closed a probe into the mother's treatment of her son.
Hunt and a nurse practitioner explained to investigators that they were unaware that CPS was investigating Gee for potentially fabricating her son’s medical illnesses. Had she known about it, Hunt said, she wouldn’t have placed the feeding tube in the boy, The Star-Telegram reported.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is characterized as “factitious disorder” in which someone “acts as if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick,” according to The Cleveland Clinic.
It’s also very rare, affecting “2 out of 100,000 children," the clinic's website reads.
“It’s fairly easy to be chasing a rabbit in your area and someone else is chasing a rabbit in their area,” said Hunt. “And it’s easy for the child to be overly tested because you rely on the parent to tell you what’s going on.”
With the feeding tube in the child’s stomach, Gee was also accused by a doctor from United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls of inventing false symptoms about her son.
Again, CPS investigated but closed the case without conducting a “face-to-face interview,” according to the affidavit quoted in the publication.
A CPS spokeswoman explained in an email sent to The Star-Telegram that Munchausen syndrome by proxy cases are extremely rare and hard to pin down.
“With a condition as rare as this, that can be difficult to detect, it makes sense to use agency-wide resources instead of trying to extensively train thousands of caseworkers," she wrote.