A mother has been accused of faking her six-year-old daughter’s illness and forcing the child to use a wheelchair and undergo 500 unnecessary doctor appointments.
31-year-old Sophie Hartman, claimed that her adopted daughter suffered from a rare neurological disease, Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, but doctors have now deemed the girl perfectly healthy.
Court documents show that Hartman had taken the little girl to appointments from the age of two and subjected her to what doctors said was an “unnecessary medical medical procedure” with a surgically implanted feeding tube.
Q13 FOX reported that the young girl was also forced to wear leg braces and use a wheelchair despite doctors saying they were not needed.
While search warrants revealed the girl had been diagnosed with the disease, medical providers say this was based on information on symptoms that was provided by Hartman.
What’s more, the documents allege that these symptoms, including severe seizures, had only been witnessed by Hartman.
A investigation into the case charged Hartman with “medical child abuse”, after specialists at Seattle Children’s Hospital became concerned she was asking for “increasingly invasive procedures based upon undocumented signs and symptoms reported by the parent”.
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They noted a concern that "this pattern has resulted in unnecessary medical testing, medication, procedures, surgeries and debility of this child.”
The little girl, who was adopted from Zambia when she was a baby, was removed from Hartman’s care and observed at a local hospital for 16 days.
At no point during these 16 days was there any findings to support her prior diagnosis, court documents show.
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Investigations found concerning entries in Hartman’s diary that suggested she had a history of lying about having illnesses herself, like meningitis and mono.
In one damning entry she wrote: “When it comes to suffering, I am a compulsive liar/exaggerator.”
Her daughter was the subject of fundraisers and was granted a wish by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
A statement issued by Hartman’s attorney’s says she is “innocent of the charges”.
It adds: “Contrary to the allegations of the King County Prosecuting Attorney, the child's diagnosis was made by more than one doctor, is legitimate, and is based on a substantial record beyond the reports and information provided by Ms. Hartman.
“That record includes independent medical examinations by multiple doctors, direct observation of the child by doctors and nurses at Duke and at Seattle Children's Hospital, standardized testing results, videotapes of the child's symptoms, MRI, EEG and other diagnostic tests.”
The case echoes that of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, whose mother, Dee Dee, had an extreme case Munchausen by proxy, a mental disorder where people fabricate or exaggerate the illness of someone in their care to get sympathy or attention.
Dee Dee forced her child to go through treatments for conditions including leukemia, asthma, and muscular dystrophy, and brain damage caused by premature birth.
She was murdered in June 2015 by Gypsy and her boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn.
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