Mom Puts Feces In Baby’s IV

8 June 2009 at 1:15 am (News, Oh You So Nasty!, WTF!?) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


When a 3-year-old patient kept having setbacks during her recovery, doctors at Dell Children’s Medical Center suspected that the child’s mother was to blame, Austin police said Wednesday.

They set up a hidden camera in the child’s hospital room that police and court records said soon recorded Emily Beth McDonald smearing human waste on the girl’s intravenous line, which can cause potentially life-threatening illnesses.

McDonald, a 23-year-old mother of three who wrote essays and blogged about giving birth to premature children, now faces a charge of injury to a child, a first-degree felony that carries a sentence of life in prison. She was arrested Sunday.

“The medical records showed the child would start getting better, and feces mostly likely would get introduced,” said Chris Hallas, an Austin police child abuse detective.

Doctors said McDonald’s actions created a “substantial risk for death,” according to an arrest affidavit.

Bob Phillips, an attorney who is representing McDonald, said his client is a “fine young woman from a fine family who loves her children very much.”

“I believe that as the facts unfold, the impression people have of this young woman will change for the better,” Phillips said, declining to elaborate.

McDonald was released from the Travis County Jail late Wednesday on a personal recognizance bond after confusion between two judges about who was overseeing the case and how much bail she should post. McDonald must wear an electronic monitoring device as part of her release.

McDonald’s other children — a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son — are in the care of relatives, officials said.

McDonald wrote in a 2007 essay for the American-Statesman about premature births that she suffered from depression after the child was born and “got overwhelmed with the amount of care (her daughter) required.”

According to an arrest affidavit, the child was admitted to the hospital April 15 with high fever and “a long history of chronic diarrhea.” Doctors at the time conducted blood tests that were positive for bacteria commonly found in feces.

During the next several weeks, investigators said, the girl cycled from recovery to setback, triggering alarm among doctors.

The affidavit said hospital staff had to replace the child’s intravenous lines several times because of infections or clots in the lines.

Investigators said doctors decided to set up a surveillance camera in the room.

The affidavit said hospital staff reviewed the tape Sunday and it showed McDonald putting feces from a diaper on her finger and placing it in a tube leading to the child’s bloodstream.

According to the affidavit, detectives questioned McDonald at the hospital, and she told them that she had wiped feces in the tube five times during her daughter’s hospital stay.

“McDonald advised that she knew her actions would cause her daughter to stay sick,” the affidavit said. The document said McDonald told investigators she was aware her actions could lead to the child’s death.

The children’s father, whom authorities did not identify, was surprised to learn of the allegations against McDonald, police said.

According to McDonald’s essay for the American-Statesman, the child weighed 1 pound, 7 ounces when she was born and was in critical condition at one point.

After going home, the child underwent three surgeries, four hospital stays and “too many doctors visits and tests to count,” the essay said.

“Feeding continues to remain a struggle and she’s still 100 percent tube fed,” the essay said.

McDonald also has posted Internet videos that show pictures of her daughter.

During a news conference Wednesday, authorities praised the actions of hospital staff for aiding in the investigation.

The Seton Family of Hospitals released a statement saying that it has “many security and safety procedures in place to protect our patients. If we suspect possible injury to one of our patients, we take legal and necessary steps to protect their health and safety.”

After McDonald’s release from jail Wednesday afternoon, state District Judges Charlie Baird and Julie Kocurek explained why she had been released on a personal recognizance bond Tuesday, rearrested during the day Wednesday and ordered released again about 5 p.m.

Baird said he was approached Tuesday by defense attorney Keith Hampton, who explained the details of the case.

He said he agreed to allow McDonald to leave jail because he did not think she would pose a public threat and would reappear in court.

Baird said the bond came with the condition that McDonald not have any contact with children unless supervised and approved by Child Protective Services, among other rules.

Kocurek said that when she revoked bond Wednesday and ordered McDonald rearrested, she mistakenly thought Baird had signed the personal recognizance bond while it was assigned to her court.

“I would not have signed the personal bond in this case because of the nature of the charges,” Kocurek said.

However, she said it is the court’s policy to honor bonds set by other judges.

Kocurek said that in addition to an order that McDonald must wear an electronic monitoring device, police officials also issued an emergency protective order to keep her away from her three children for 30 to 60 days.




  1. Mz. Fenyx said,

    When things like this happen, it makes me want to lobby for a plan to implement a program to get people psychologically evaluated before having a child. Because the child was BORN premature, the pressure of taking care of the child is GOING TO BE HIGH. My gosh, what part of self sacrifice do some people not understand about becoming a parent? Your life is now dedicated to making your CHILD as happy and successful as possible. Chuuh to every rassclaat available on the face of the planet right now.

    • Corprah Lanfrey said,

      I am so right there with you. 1000% agreed.

  2. J said,

    I knew this girl and didn’t think she was capable of doing such a thing. It makes me sick.

  3. Hope Ligon said,

    I found out that I’m related to this girl! I can’t believe that she’s like my 2nd cousin!!! CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY!!!!!!!

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