A rare bone disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) that mimicked child abuse destroyed a Colorado family. Back in 2008, William "Dave" O'Shell actually snapped and killed his wife Tiffany and himself because of the false child abuse allegations that led to their three-month-old daughter Alyssa being put in foster care.
The incredibly unfortunate thing is that the same day that Dave O'Shell killed his wife and himself, a Colorado Children's Hospital doctor suspected that Alyssa suffered from a rare bone disease, and later he was proven right. What a waste for the family! How terrible it must have been for Dave to be accused of child abuse when he knew he was not abusing Alyssa.
Alyssa's grandparents filed lawsuits over the incident, but they were unsuccessful. Her grandfather Paul Cuin said, "We were looking for action. We could care less about the money. We wanted someone to sit up and say, 'This is wrong and we need to change things.'"
The family believes that something needs to change with child protective services to make sure this type of tragedy does not happen in the future. They also want to call attention to SMA so that when somebody sees these types of fractures in an infant, they will check for that as well. Apparently doctors remain unaware of the disease, which is part of the reason why investigators jumped so quickly to child abuse in Alyssa's case even though people knew that the O'Shell's were wonderful parents.
Paul Cuin said, "We don't want the kids' death to be in vain," he said. "We want something good to come of it. I don't have a problem at all with social services coming and taking a child and doing an investigation. There is a need for this service. There are bad people out there, and kids need to be protected. But the system did the opposite. It tore a family apart."
This is such a tragic story. Have you heard of it? Unfortunately Alyssa died from SMA in October 2008, and her grandparents are left without their daughter and their granddaughter. Obviously Dave O'Shell should never have killed his wife over this, but it certainly would have helped if doctors had looked into the rare bone disease earlier. Have you ever heard of SMA or known somebody who had it?
Like this health article? See more by Kate James at Gather.com