Phoenix, AZ — Eleven-year-old Emily is missing. She was last seen in the lobby of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where she was being treated for leukemia.
Authorities are looking for Emily, since her mother sneaked her out of the hospital, saying that the girl could die if she doesn’t get immediate medical attention.
Surveillance video shows the girl, who had been receiving treatment at the hospital for over a month, walking through the lobby. She is walking with an IV, which was attached to a chest catheter. The girl, her mother, and young brother walked into a lobby restroom, emerging minutes later. The IV was gone, and Emily was wearing a different outfit. The three left the hospital, and got into a black van.
Emily has not been seen since, and doctors are worried for Emily’s safety.
A nurse supervisor called 911 when she realized Emily was missing and described how she was able to avoid being noticed.
“She was wearing a wig, which is not unusual , a lot of our cancer patients wear wigs,” the supervisor said. “She wasn’t wearing a wig when she went into the bathroom though and then she was wearing a wig when she came out and she was actually covering her right arm, the amputated arm.”
Officials have noted that the hospital is not in the wrong in this case. Patients are not forced to stay in the hospital, but authorities worry for the safety of the little girl.
Emily, who had her arm amputated because of an infection, was scheduled to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday. She disappeared on Wednesday evening.
“There’s a pretty good chance of this child obtaining an infection,” said Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos. “Once an infection starts, it could be just a matter of days, which could turn fatal.”
Dr. Theodore Moore, chief of pediatric hematology, oncology, and bone marrow transplant at the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA, says that while the mother’s actions may seem heartless, “having a child diagnosed with cancer is probably one of the most traumatic times for a parent.”
“Lots of times the things they do may not appear rational to the rest of us,” Moore, who is not involved in the case, reported.
Moore maintains that when a parent takes a child out of treatment, there are major risks. With leukemia, timing is critical.
“A break in therapy can put the child’s outcome at risk, especially if that break is prolonged — weeks, as opposed to days,” Moore says.
The fact the Emily’s mother removed or disconnected her catheter is also very dangerous. Moore says that it might lead to the release of blood clots that could wind up in the girl’s heart or lungs.
“The most important thing, no matter what has happened, is that the child gets seen as soon as possible,” Moore says.
Authorities are asking for the community’s help in locating the girl. The girl is known as Norma, the father, Luis. Other than that, not much is known about the family.