AUSTIN (KXAN) - An Austin woman is charged with injury to a child after ahospital-surveillance video caught her putting feces into her3-year-old child's Central Ventricular line cap.
Emily McDonald, 23, of Manor "admitted she knew her actionswould result in her daughter's prolonged illness," said Lt. JeffHampton of the Austin Police Department's Child Abuse Unit.
The charge is a first-degree felony punishable by life inprison.
Dell Children's Hospital admitted the little girl on April 15with high fever and a long history of chronic diarrhea. During herstay, the hospital staff became suspicious of McDonald.
The little girl was being treated for serious infections causedby unusual organisms which can be found in feces, and the hospitalwas unsure how she was getting these infections during her hospitalstay. So staff decided to place a surveillance camera inside thechild's room.
The hospital watched the surveillance video and found McDonaldputting fecal matter on her finger from the child's diaper andrubbing it on the inside of her child's feeding tube. These typesof actions are life-threatening to the child, as they could causesepsis.
After seeing the video, hospital staff called the child abuseunit of the Austin Police Department and alerted them of thesituation. When the police arrived, McDonald confessed tomanipulating her daughter's feeding tube by wiping the end of itwith feces.
McDonald admitted to doing this five times during her daughter'sstay at the hospital, police said.
"The Seton Family of Hospitals has many security and safetyprocedures in place to protect our patients," said JohnHellerstedt, MD, the vice president of medical affairs. "If wesuspect possible injury to one of our patients, we take legal andnecessary steps to protect their health and safety."
Meanwhile, McDonald was
The little girl had spent much of her young life in and out ofthe hospital - according to the blog and earlier writings rightafter she was born.
"The last few days have been frustrating," McDonald, the motherof three, wrote on May 27, the last entry available to the publicon TheMcDonaldFive blog. "It's one thing to spend 8mos (sic) in theNICU after your child's born but it's 10x worse having to revertback to that lifestyle after having your child home for2.5yrs."
McDonald had many videos of her children on YouTube:
McDonald was originally granted a personal recognizance bond byone judge. However, when Judge Kocurek found out about the case,she was "distressed". She revoked the personal recognizance andadded a bond of $100,000 instead. Now she has a monitoringbracelet on her ankle and has been ordered not to see any of herthree children.
That's despite the fact that Wednesday detectives said theybelieve McDonald was only a danger to her three year old daughter.Austin District Judge Charlie Baird released McDonald Tuesday onher own recognizance, despite an initial bond set at $100,000.
Judge Baird said he believed his ruling was justified becauseMcDonald has no criminal record. McDonald's case was then assignedto Judge Julie Kocurek. She ordered McDonald to be rearrestedWednesday afternoon.
McDonald has since bonded out of jail and was given anelectronic ankle monitor. She is not allowed to see her threechildren. Her other six and four-year old children are staying withMcDonald's husband.
Police said McDonald has never been diagnosed with Munchausen byproxy syndrome, a form of child abuse when a caregiver deliberatelymakes a child ill. But, they did mention "one reason she offered tous as an explanation is that it would keep her daughter sick togain attention," said Detective Marcy Graham.
If the charges are true, then McDonald was perpetrating a cycleof sickness that she was already aware of right after the girl'spremature birth a few years ago.
In a 2007 article, she said she was told that her daughter maynot survive past birth.
"From the moment she was delivered life has been tough for her,"she wrote. "While being wheeled into the operating room I willnever forget the obstetrician asking if my husband and I were surewe wanted [her daughter] to be resuscitated. The next words out ofher mouth were, 'you know she's probably not going to makeit.'"
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