Emaciated Toldot Aharon 3-year-old doesn't have cancer, Hadassah insists

Hospital attributes boy's condition to mother's mental illness.

starved kid 88 (photo credit: )
starved kid 88
(photo credit: )
The three-and-a-half-year-old Jerusalem boy whose mother allegedly neglected and starved him until he weighed only seven kilos does not have cancer and has not received chemotherapy, the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) declared on Thursday. HMO issued its forceful statement to deny claims in the haredi community - and posted anonymously on pashkvil signs in haredi neighborhoods - that cancer was the reason why the emaciated boy reportedly looks like a Holocaust survivor, rather than attributing the boy's condition to his mother's alleged mental illness. Leaflets alluding to cancer were also distributed by haredim at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem. The statements and rumors "are completely baseless and ... absolutely not true," Hadassah commented. The family belongs to Toldot Aharon, an extreme, 900-family hassidic sect living mostly in Jerusalem, with a handful living in Ramat Beit Shemesh. Hadassah also denounced the rioting near Hadassah's community clinic on Jerusalem's Rehov Straus, which is located near the haredi neighborhoods of Mea She'arim and Geula. The hospital maintains that having ruled out a physical reason for his emaciation and after observing the mother's behavior, the 30-year-old, Jerusalem-born, pregnant mother of four suffers from Munchausen-by-proxy, a rare syndrome that involves the exaggeration or fabrication of illnesses or symptoms by a primary caretaker. In this mental illness an individual - usually a mother - deliberately makes another person (usually her or his own preschool child) sick or convinces others that the person is sick. The parent or caregiver misleads others into thinking that the child has medical problems by lying and reporting fictitious episodes. The boy's condition has significantly improved since the woman was arrested and remanded, thus keeping her away from the child. "His weight is increasing and additional physical signs have diminished or even disappeared," said HMO deputy director-general Dr. Yair Birnbaum. "Our medical teams are continuing to give the child the most dedicated medical and professional treatment," said Birnbaum, the same that he has received up to now during months in the pediatric department. "He is surrounded by love and compassion, not only from the staff but also from relatives who are with him."