CALGARY — A British Columbia physician says the parents of a starved teen refused to accept a diabetes diagnosis when the boy was initially admitted to hospital 13 years before his death.
Dr. Laura Stewart, a pediatric endocrinologist, testified Monday that the husband and wife were reluctant to give their son insulin after he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the children's hospital in Vancouver in 2000.
Emil Radita, 59, and his wife Rodica Radita, 53, are charged with first-degree murder in the 2013 death of 15-year-old Alexandru. The boy, who was one of eight children, weighed less than 37 pounds and died of complications due to untreated diabetes and starvation.
The judge, who is hearing the case without a jury, has yet to decide if the evidence from B.C. will be admitted at trial.
Stewart said Alexandru tested at the severe end of diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when the blood becomes acidic and can result in muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and in some cases organ failure. A lack of insulin causes the body to break down muscle and fat cells.
Although their son reacted well to treatment, the parents weren't allowed to take him home until they had proven they were capable of administering insulin and checking his blood sugar.
"What I remember is the mother still not accepting the diagnosis of diabetes and initially did not want to learn how to manage it. Eventually she did comply on how, to get the child home, but never did acknowledge the diagnosis.''
Alexandru died in 2013 from complications due to untreated diabetes and starvation. (Photo: CP/HO)
Alexandru gained weight and appeared to be a healthy child when he came for an outpatient checkup a few months later in February 2001. She said his height was just over three feet and he weighed about 35 pounds, which was normal for his age.
Stewart said she saw Alexandru again in 2003 when he was readmitted after presenting as "very ill'' at a hospital in Surrey.
"Alexandru was so severely malnourished at the time of admission it was felt by the attending staff at the time that he was not safe to be in the care of his family.''
Stewart said children's services in British Columbia was notified and Alexandru was "apprehended'' from his parents care while he was still in hospital.
She told court that prior to the discovery of insulin, Type 1 diabetes was "universally fatal.'' Back then, she said, treatment involved limiting the intake of carbohydrates and cutting the intake of calories to keep blood sugar low. She said those treated were in a constant state of malnutrition.
"As you get more and more malnourished your body's organs shut down and you die,'' she said.
"Alexandru was so severely malnourished."
The Raditas moved from B.C. to Alberta in 2009.
The medical examiner in the case said Alexandru was skeletal in appearance when he died, had very little body fat and was severely underweight. His body was covered with ulcers and his teeth had rotted down to the root.
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