A Texas mother was jailed after she forced her son to undergo 13 pointless surgeries that ultimately left him in a wheelchair, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
Kaylene Bowen-Wright, 34, was arrested last Wednesday on a warrant that accuses her of injury to a child with serious bodily injury. According to a Child Protective Services (CPS) petition, medical records revealed that her son Christopher was seen at least 323 times at hospitals and pediatric centers in Dallas and Houston between his premature birth in April 2009 and 2016. During that span, the child reportedly underwent invasive procedures, including the insertion of a feeding tube that caused several life-threatening blood infections.
In an interview with the newspaper, Christopher's father, Ryan Crawford, said Bowen-Wright would repeatedly tell him and Dallas County family court judges that the child was ill despite Crawford's skepticism.
"She was always saying Christopher was sick. Every single week. Every single month," Crawford said. "She would always say, 'Something's wrong. He has this. He has that.'"
Though Crawford tried to convince the judges that Bowen-Wright was lying, he said, she would go on to claim that their son was dying of cancer.
"It was always the same story: Christopher is dying," Crawford recalled. "The father doesn't need to be around because he doesn't know to take care of him ... Every time I went to court, they made me feel like I was the worst human ever."
In 2012, a judge blocked Crawford from visiting his then 3-year-old son. In his absence, Bowen-Wright attempted to put their child on a list for lung transplants and even placed him in hospice care, according to court documents.
The Star-Telegram notes that, late last month, CPS received a second report from medical staff that suggested that Christopher was not sick at all. The agency ultimately removed him, along with two of his half-siblings, from Bowen-Wright's care. Doctors also concluded that Christopher had not, in fact, suffered from cancer or experienced any of the symptoms that his mother had claimed.
"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," the boy's father told the paper. "The system has to be exposed — all the weaknesses that are in the system — because the kids don't deserve that."
Now, Crawford, who said his concerns were dismissed by CPS multiple times, is fighting to get his son back from foster care. He has accused the agency of resisting removing the child from his foster parents because Christopher does not know his biological father that well. But, Crawford said, the now 8-year-old also isn't familiar with his foster family.
"That's taxpayer money," the father said. "Why spend all that extra money when he has a father that has been there from day one, that's been fighting for this?"
To help cover his legal fees in his ongoing custody battle, Crawford's colleagues started a GoFundMe campaign in 2017. It raised over $13,000.
"You would think my son would be so screwed up," Crawford said. "Obviously mentally, he's going to need some counseling. But he is so sweet, so nice, so playful. You wouldn't think that he had gone through all this abuse."
Christopher's case is eerily similar to that of Louisiana native Gypsy Rose Blanchard, whose story rose to national prominence after her mother, Dee Dee Blanchard, claimed she was sick and lost their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Under Dee Dee's care, Gypsy underwent several surgeries, including a procedure on her eyes and the removal of her salivary glands. The two were also showered with a number of gifts by charity organizations, including a new home in Missouri and a trip to Disney World.
In 2015, Gypsy convinced her online boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, to murder her mother. An investigation subsequently revealed that she had not, in fact, been sick at all and that Dee Dee may have suffered from Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a disorder in which a caretaker fabricates the appearance of illness in a child for attention from medical professionals.