Mum Put Son at Risk So Husband Would Notice Her

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 8, 2003 | Go to article overview

Mum Put Son at Risk So Husband Would Notice Her


Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY Health Editor

A MOTHER faked her five-year-old son's medical tests, forcing him to undergo two unnecessary operations in a bid to get attention from her husband.

The 38-year-old yesterday admitted two counts of child cruelty after the surgeons who operated on her son discovered she had faked his symptoms.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that the woman, who lives in Newport, suffered from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, the same psychiatric disorder as ``Angel of Death'' nurse Beverley Allitt.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to a three-year community rehabilitation order with the condition that she undergo psychiatric treatment in a bid to address her illness.

An expert in the disorder, Patricia Polledri, said last night, ``There was no point putting this woman in prison. She needs help, not a prison sentence.''

The woman added drops of her blood to her son's urine samples when she sought medical treatment for his ``illness''.

After the blood was detected in his urine sample the five-year-old underwent two kidney biopsies in February 2001 and last year.

It was only after the second operation that tests showed the boy's blood type was different from that found in his urine. Police were called in and the mother later admitted faking the samples.

The court was told that she had spiked her son's urine samples because she felt neglected by her husband.

Michael Mather-Lees, for the prosecution, said, ``Through her actions she subjected this young child to completely unnecessary surgical procedures including the use of general anaesthetic.

``This caused him substantial risk and great discomfort.''

Andrew Jones, for the defence, said the woman was suffering from Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. Recorder Paul Lewis, QC, told her, ``You sought medical treatment for your son claiming he had blood in his urine. In fact you had contaminated it with your own blood.

``Because of your actions he underwent two invasive procedures which must have caused him distress and unnecessary suffering.

``At the time you committed these offences you were depressed and were suffering from Munchausen's by proxy. You were seeking attention from medical personnel because of the difficulties you were experiencing in your personal life. …

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