CALGARY — A doctor has testified that the parents of a teen who died of starvation and complications from untreated diabetes were providing fake blood-sugar readings while caring for him after his initial diagnosis.
Dr. Daniel Metzker from the B.C. Children's Hospital told the couple's trial on Tuesday that they refused to believe their son had diabetes and had to be pressured by child and family services to treat him before he could be released from hospital in 2000.
"The major thing that I remember is the initial resistance: that I was wrong about the diagnosis of diabetes, that we hadn't done the right tests, that we still were not correct with the diagnosis,'' Metzker testified.
Not guilty plea
Emil and Rodica Radita have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 15-year-old Alexandru, who weighed less than 37 pounds when he died in Calgary in 2013.
A judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, has yet to decide if evidence dealing with the family's time in B.C. will be admitted in the trial.
Metzker, a pediatric endocrinologist, was one of the first physicians to deal with Alexandru and his parents when the boy was diagnosed at about age two.
The doctor said training the couple on the basics of diabetes was difficult and, after Alexandru's release, a community health nurse had to visit the family's home twice a day to make sure he was getting insulin.
Fake blood-sugar readings
It was discovered in March 2001 that the parents appeared to be taking their own blood-sugar readings and calling them in to the hospital, Metzker said. A check of the blood-sugar meter confirmed that something wasn't right.
"At one point, the blood sugars were very consistently the same. I've been doing this for 23 years. We have a lot of teenagers who fabricate blood sugars. You start to recognize patterns,'' he said.
"I concluded that somebody was probably falsifying the blood sugars — perhaps doing their own finger pokes, because you have to put a sample on the meter to get a reading.''
"I concluded that somebody was probably falsifying the blood sugars."
The results from a non-diabetic person were being recorded, Metzker concluded.
The doctor documented his concerns to the government ministry that was looking out for Alexandru. A short time later, the B.C. Children's Hospital was told the boy was going to be treated at a hospital in Surrey.
"Our social worker had contact with the social worker in Surrey, and that social worker had been persuaded by the parents that we were persecuting the family, that we had taught them about diabetes and that they no longer wanted to be followed up at Children's (Hospital),'' said Metzker.
He said the ministry needed to remain involved.
"It was our very strong recommendation and medical opinion that the ministry had to remain involved in this case because we were, if you will, losing control of the situation.''
After another admission to hospital for malnutrition in 2003, Alexandru was placed in foster care for one year. At that point, the boy gained weight, his condition was being managed and he appeared to be thriving, Metzker said.
In 2005, a judge returned Alexandru to his family. They moved to Alberta three years later.
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