Rare bone disease leads to bogus child abuse allegations

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on November 14, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 15 at 9:24 AM

DALLAS -- Precious time with his baby girl is limited to just two hours a week, or less, for Andrew Huber.

Andrew isn't allowed anywhere near his daughter, Kenley, without court-appointed supervision. Doctors believe he is a child abuser.

Suspicions began when Kenley was three months old. Andrew said he heard a "pop" during a routine diaper change. He rushed to Children's Medical Center as a precaution.

X-rays revealed "multiple fractures." Doctors ruled them "non-accidental injury” and diagnosed "suspected physical abuse of a child."

"I've got doctors telling me my baby has multiple fractures,” said Bria Huber, Kenley’s mother. “I've got police telling me, 'Your husband did it.' I was in pure shock."

"They charged me with 2nd degree felony injury to a child, and I was blown away,” Andrew said. “Absolutely blown away."

Bria said she, at first, questioned her husband.

“I love him, but I'm not blinded by love,” she said.

Then, they began putting together the pieces.

Bria had been home with the baby full-time until the very day Kenley was taken to the hospital and found to have fractures. On days that Bria wasn’t at home, a nanny was.

That nanny said she never saw evidence of abuse. The Hubers' pediatrician also says there was no evidence of abuse during her exams. Because Kenley was born prematurely, she required more medical attention than the average baby.

The Hubers have spent months trying to clear Andrew's name and find out what caused their daughter's broken bones. They went to specialists across the country, generating piles of paperwork.

Doctors at Children's had ruled out "bone disorders."

Osteogenesis imperfecta, which is known as "brittle bone disease," is often first considered for unexplained fractures. A report from an independent specialist consulted by the Huber’s details evidence of "demineralized" bones, suggesting an "underlying nutritional or metabolic disorder."

The Hubers also suspected that fertility treatments Bria had underwent along with weeks of doctor-ordered bed-rest might have contributed to a Vitamin D deficiency, but that couldn’t be proven. By the time Vitamin D tests were taken, Kenley was drinking Vitamin D-fortified formula.

The Hubers hired an attorney, but a Denton County grand jury indicted Andrew.

The Hubers contacted News 8 more than nine months ago in desperation. We showed Kenley's X-rays to two independent radiologists, not associated with Children’s Medical Center. Both said the fractures, commonly called “corner fractures,” are indicative of child abuse.

And then, a few weeks ago, the Hubers heard from another North Texas family.

"I said, 'This is our story,'” Rana Tyson said. “Identical to our story."

Rana and Chad Tyson also lost custody of their twin girls after doctors at Children's Medical Center discovered unexplained fractures. The Tysons' parents were given temporary guardianship of their three daughters for five months.

"So we would put them in bed at night,” Rana said through tears, “and hope that we go here before they woke up the morning, so that they wouldn't know that we weren't here."

“I was in shock,” Chad said. “I couldn't process it. I thought, 'This is going to blow over.'”

The Tysons eventually ended up at the office of Dr. Golder Wilson, a Dallas geneticist. He diagnosed twins Karrington and Kambry with a connective tissue disorder called Ehler's Danlos, or EDS.

"One of the main symptoms is the underlying structure of the body, including the bones and joints, is fragile. So you get more fractures,” Dr. Wilson said. “And therefore, just handling a baby routinely, like any parent would do, can lead to a fracture."

Wilson said EDS was once thought to be rare. Many doctors have never heard of it.

"What we've learned recently, in part because of advances in testing the genes for these conditions,” Wilson said, “is that it's extremely common, and that there are milder forms that may present with one or two or three fractures."

In fact, in response to an inquiry, The Ehler's Danlos Foundation asked their Facebook followers how many had been unjustly blamed for hurting their children.

From across the country came responses of "yes,” that others had also been "accused of child abuse,” "charged with assault,” "questioned about beating,” and investigated for "Munchausen by proxy" disease.

Rana, a hospital nurse, heard of the Huber’s situation in a roundabout way, which she now believes was fate. She asked if she could reach out to Bria.

"And that changed everything,” Bria said. “I'd never heard of Ehler's Danlos Syndrome before speaking with her. No doctor had ever mentioned it."

Bria and Kenley have both been diagnosed with EDS. Bria said she had no clue she had the disease.

"All charges were dismissed,”  Andrew said with a smile, “and I was completely allowed to go move back in with the family and start our new lives."

“Children’s Medical Center cannot discuss specifics of patient cases due to confidentiality requirements," Children's Medical Center said in a statement to News 8. "Children’s patients who present with indications of abuse or neglect are assessed by physicians specially trained in child abuse identification and treatment, in consultation with other pediatric specialists. Texas law requires any professional who has cause to believe a child has been abused or neglected to report the suspected abuse or neglect in accordance with the law. Investigations and charges subsequent to the reporting are the responsibility of the appropriate law enforcement and social service authorities. Children’s cooperates fully with all such investigations.”

After nine months of separation, the Hubers are mending their fractured family, and hoping to bring awareness to a disease that hurt more than just their daughter.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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