NEW YORK MOTHER JAILED
From The Cancer Chronicles #2
© 1989 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
In the first week of June, Migdalia Pagan was jailed on Riker's Island for refusing to disclose the whereabouts of her four-year-old son, Darian.
For seventeen months, Darian had been a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). During that time he had received repeated courses of toxic chemotherapy and radiation. These failed to arrest his cancer. The doctors then decided to try an experimental and painful bone marrow transplant.
Migdalia and her husband David, 36, a warehouseman, feared this might cause brain damage and started talking about alternatives. MSKCC and the Child Welfare Administration then obtained a court order forcing the parents to admit the child to the hospital for the treatment.
On Sunday, May 28, David came to visit and quietly took the boy out of the pediatric playroom. Hospital officials panicked when they realized the Pagans had flown the coop. Chief of Manhattan Detectives Aaron Rosenthal ordered a nation-wide search for the fugitives. "We're reaching out anywhere we think [Darian] could be," said Rosenthal (New York Times, June 1, 1989).
"It's a quality-of-life issue," the family's lawyer, Steven Mandel, rejoined. "The parents should determine how the child should be treated and how the child should live" (New York Newsday, June 1, 1989).
Several days later Darian and his father surfaced at Houston's M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute for treatment. Seeing that they were going to an orthodox organization, the courts then released Migdalia from jail and allowed the parents to have back their custody of the child. According to MSKCC's Dr. Richard Reilly, the Pagan affair was nothing but "an unfortunate misunderstanding" (Daily News, June 3, 1989).
Well, maybe. But MSKCC's actions in this business reveal its doctor-knows-best
philosophy in action. It¹s sad that the courts, the welfare agencies,
and even the American Civil Liberties Union support them in this. There
are dangerous implications when sane, loving parents are deprived of the
right to choose what is best for their own child. But arrogance and high-handedness
have characterized MSKCC from the start, as readers of "The Cancer Industry"
know. In the guise of concern for Darian Pagan, they directed an attack
on all cancer victims. Compulsory treatment with painful, dangerous and
uncertain procedures should never be allowed.
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