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Peacock's new docuseries "The Battle For Justina Pelletier" is exploring the complicated case of a 14-year-old girl whose parents were accused of Munchausen by proxy after she was admitted to Boston Children's Hospital.
In a trailer released Tuesday, Justina's parents, Linda and Lou Pelletier, describe their daughter as a joyful and active child. "She was thriving," Lou Pelletier says.
But Justina's health declined around the time she turned 14 years old, when she began experiencing a myriad of symptoms. The child's illness made it difficult for her to walk, talk or swallow, according to a 2020 NBC Boston report. She was later admitted to Boston Children's Hospital.
Once admitted, doctors began to suspect that Justina wasn't actually sick. Rather, they believed her maladies were really a case of Munchausen by proxy, where a caregiver either fabricates symptoms, or creates them, in a child.
However, according to NBC Boston, the parents received a separate diagnosis at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where their doctors determined that Justina had mitochondrial disease — a rare disorder that impacts the cells ability to function properly, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
When the Pelletiers tried to take Justina back to Tufts instead of seeking treatment at Boston Children's Hospital, they were accused of over-medicalizing her — in other words, giving Justina more treatment than medically necessary.
A juvenile court ultimately removed Justina from the Pelletier's custody at the age of 14, making her a ward of the state, according to NBC Boston.
According to the Peacock press release, this is when the case took a bizarre turn.
"The battle between the two sides inspired an Anonymous computer hacker to take matters into his own hands, hurling the family into a national debate about parental rights, child protections and the gray areas in between," the release states.
While Justina was eventually returned to her parent's custody by a judge, the Pelletiers sued Boston Children's Hospital, as well as four of Justina's doctors and caregivers, for violating their rights.
In February 2020, a jury concluded that the hospital and doctors were not medically negligent in their treatment of Justina, according to NBC Boston.
"The jury's decision affirms what Boston Children's Hospital has always believed: that our clinicians provided Justina Pelletier high quality, compassionate care, and always acted in the best interest of her health and well-being," the hospital said in a statement to the outlet at the time.
To learn more about this case, tune in to all four episodes of "The Battle For Justina Pelletier," streaming Dec. 13 on Peacock.
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