Chelsey Cruz was a 15-year-old honors student at the Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford. She died on March 11, of lupus complications.

Disputes over Chelsey’s care had begun six years previously, when she was first diagnosed with lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks its own healthy tissue. Chelsey had a complication of lupus called lupus nephritis where severe kidney damage can cause death. She also developed an infection and probably died of cardiac arrest as a result of the infection’s spread. There will be an autopsy.

Complaints against mother

Doctors at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital had both filed complaints stating that Chelsey’s mother, Kimberly Castro, was harming her daughter. Castro had objected to the treatments they were giving to Chelsey and had withdrawn her daughter from their care. When Chelsey died, she was in treatment at Children’s Hospital in Boston, and Castro had disagreed with the treatments given there too.

Last August the Connecticut Department of Children and Families filed charges of medical neglect against Castro and took custody of Chelsey. They placed Chelsey in her grandfather’s custody, as he agreed to follow the doctors’ orders.

Castro’s reason for disputing treatments was the side effects caused by the various drugs. When Chelsey died, the doctors blamed the lupus and its severe complications. Castro blamed the doctors.

Drugs are not always miracles

It’s very hard for a mother when her child is ill and in pain. One has to remember though that (a) no drug is without side effects, and (b) lupus is a difficult disease to treat. There is no cure, so it is treated symptomatically, meaning the symptoms are treated since the causes are unknown and therefore can’t be treated. Its course is unpredictable. It flares up, then sinks into remission, then flares up again.

Survival in the U.S. of patients who have had it for five years is 95%, but Chelsey’s treatments seem to have been continually interrupted as her mother withdrew her from each group of doctors. She refused to allow Chelsey to have Cytoxan or Cellcept, claiming that those drugs were killing her daughter. When she was in hospital, Chelsey had a uniformed guard outside her room to prevent her mother from taking her out of the hospital.

Castro is now considering filing a lawsuit against the State of Connecticut. She may or may not have a valid case.

If you have lost a loved one through what you perceive to be medical negligence or malpractice, please call or email us for a free consultation. Medical malpractice cases are usually complex, and the sooner you obtain some legal help, the more quickly your case can be assessed and we can determine how to proceed.