Elgin parents accused of child abuse meet with Texas lawmaker to prevent misdiagnoses

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two Elgin parents, who once faced felony child abuse charges after a doctor’s misdiagnosis, will meet with Texas legislators to discuss law changes to prevent the wrongful separation of children from their parents.

After a KXAN story documenting the family’s medical struggles aired earlier this month, Lorina and Jason Troy began speaking with State Representative James Frank. The parents met with Frank on Wednesday to make plans to testify in front of a committee in charge of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

In 2015, a doctor evaluated the Troys’ infant son after his head continued swelling. The doctor diagnosed the child with shaken baby syndrome, according to the family.

Jason Jonathan Troy would ultimately be diagnosed with Benign External Hydracephalus of Infancy. Doctors initially thought the swelling in his head was due to repeated abuse. (Courtesy: Lorina Troy)

Their two sons were taken from them and placed into foster care. Jason faced two felony charges of child abuse, which carry a sentence between five and 99 years.

In reality, the baby suffered from benign external hydrocephalus, where spinal fluid builds up outside the brain. This type of condition can affect people of all ages and a benign form takes longer to present itself.

With the new diagnosis, discovered years later by a medical professional in Maryland, the charges were dropped and the parents were reunited with their children.

“This is happening often in Texas and nationwide,” Lorina Troy said. “Children are being easily misdiagnosed and wrongfully taken.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Family and Protective Services stated that the actions they took were necessary to protect the child.

While we cannot provide specific facts in the Troy case, we stand firmly by our investigation and our actions in the matter. Intense emotions are understandable with the lives of children and families are at stake, but in this case the system worked to protect the child. We are pleased the family is now reunited.

The Department of Family and Protective Services

Earlier this month, NBC News and the Houston Chronicle revealed their joint investigation into this very issue. It had to do with pediatricians specialized in knowing the signs of child abuse.

Jason Troy cradles his infant son, Jason Jonathan Troy. Troy faced felony child abuse charges which were later dismissed after his son was properly diagnosed. (Courtesy: Lorina Troy)

They found Texas cases where the legal and medical system sometimes struggled to differentiate between actual child abuse and non-abuse related injures.

Frank, the chair of the Committee on Human Services, called for hearings on that specific issue.

“I’m very concerned with the premature, unnecessary removal of children, and I think it happens a lot more than people in Texas understand,” said Frank, a Republican from District 69 in Wichita Falls.

Rep. Frank and the Troys discussed options for appearing during interim hearings before and during the 2021 legislative session.

“There were some bills that we looked at in the last session that didn’t get to the finish line, and frankly, I think the Troy’s story and others are what’s going to make people recognize the need for changes,” Rep. Frank said.

“We don’t look at the consequences of removing a child unjustly and the consequences on that child and the damage we caused.”

Representative James Frank, (R) Wichita Falls

Rep. Frank said he wants to see more accountability from doctors and a better system of checks and balances before the state takes a child away.

However, he admitted there are concerns with adding more state oversight. He said the children who truly are being abused need help right away. While procedural steps must be followed, they need to be addressed quickly and efficiently.

“Do I think that the state should go in and remove every child getting abused? Absolutely. Do I think that is a proper role of government? Yes. But is it a heavy, weighty responsibility and one we ought to make sure is done right? Yes,” Frank said.

Rep. James Frank and Lorina Troy pose with Lorina’s book chronicling her family’s struggle through the misdiagnosis. (Courtesy: Lorina Troy)

The Troys said they were pleased with their visit to the capitol and their meeting with Frank. They said their next move will be to meet with their district’s representative, John Cyrier.

“He said he will definitely speak to us again and work on changes to prevent other children from being misdiagnosed and wrongfully removed,” Lorina Troy said. “Civil rights were violated. They assume the worse and its devastating for families. So we hope and pray that things will get better.”

Lorina Troy said she was overwhelmed with the positive response her family received after their story aired on KXAN.

“We really appreciate everyone’s responses. A bunch of people were messaging me privately and telling me we have their support and prayers. Everyone was showing so much support,” Lorina Troy said.

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