DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – An 8-year-old Dallas boy may have endured hundreds of unnecessary doctor visits and more than a dozen pointless surgeries, after police believe his mother faked multiple illnesses.
Kaylene Bowen-Wright is charged with Injury to a Child.
An investigation by Child Protective Services (CPS) found she took her son, Christopher, to hospitals in Dallas and Houston with a variety of complaints.
The agency’s report indicated it was likely a case of Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, where a caregiver fakes or creates a child’s symptoms to receive attention or other benefits.
Ryan Crawford, the boy’s father, says Bowen-Wright began complaining of their son’s health soon after he was born.
“She claimed he had issues drinking milk. I never saw those issues,” he said.
Crawford says she later surprised him at a custody hearing with news of serious health issues.
“Saying Christopher is never going to walk and we need to… I need to learn to take care of a disabled child,” he said
A report from CPS shows during a span of eight years, the boy has visited the doctor 323 times and undergone 13 “major” surgeries. As recently as last month, CPS found the boy had a feeding tube, used oxygen, and took seizure medication.
A CPS investigation also found Bowen-Wright cut her son’s hair and posted a picture of him in a Make-A-Wish shirt claiming he had cancer in an effort to raise money. “Every single time we went to court, she would say that my son was dying the next day,” said Crawford.
The father says three different judges believed her claims, refused to grant him custody, and chided him for not taking his son’s health seriously.
“The judge looked at myself and my attorney and said I can’t believe you’d even bring her back to court with your child about to die,” he recalls.
During a trip to Dallas Children’s Medical Center in November, a doctor began to suspect Bowen-Wright might be trying to induce her son to have seizures and later documented concerns in a report to CPS.
The complaint prompted the state agency’s investigation, which resulted in Christopher and his two siblings being removed from the home.
“No one wanted to believe me until it was almost too late,” said Crawford. He’s now fighting for custody of Christopher, who remains in foster care.
Crawford said his son is struggling to accept he may never have been sick at all. “He almost died three different times due to infections from the 13 different surgeries, so he has a… he has a long road ahead of him. I hate that he had to go through all that. I hate it. I hate it so much.”