Source: YouTube Screenshot

Netflix is currently showing a documentary film about a family that was devastated by American injustice. The hard-hitting documentary tells the story of Maya Kowalski and her family. It documents the case of wrongful accusations of child abuse, and the tragedy that unfolded. It all started when Maya’s parents tried to get their daughter help for her serious but rare health condition. It is also indicative of a system that presumes guilt on the basis of medical opinion, without hard evidence.

Children’s Healthcare unfit for purpose?

The documentary showed the lack of medical support and the lengths the parents had to go to, to get any treatment for Maya. A whole host of doctors were blatantly ignoring Maya’s pain, and the symptoms she was experiencing.

Maya’s determined mother searched for an expert who could help her daughter.

At great expense – they paid for medical treatment for Maya in Mexico. The only place that was able to offer the specialist treatment Maya needed.

Although highly risky the treatment initially proved successful. Unfortunately, a year later Maya got sick again and needed urgent medical attention. This is when the family’s troubles started. The hospital they took Maya to, would not accept the rare health condition she had, or the treatment that she needed. Doctors were not convinced Maya’s medication was suitable; but worse than that, Maya was presumed as not having the pain that her parents said she had.

Allegations of child abuse

Medical staff at Johns Hopkin Hospital (Florida) immediately flagged this as a suspected case of child abuse. They claimed that Maya’s mother, Beata, was guilty of Medical abuse and that she had something called Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Despite the parents’ best efforts to clear this up, by providing evidence from the expert they had seen, the hospital referred Maya into state custody. Poor Maya was kept in a hospital under state protection for three months. All the while, her mother was desperately trying to get hospital staff to treat Maya for her rare condition, as well as wrangling with an attorney to get her daughter back home.

Tragically Maya’s mother took her own life, due to the undue stress the allegations and estrangement had caused her. One can only imagine the pain she was going through, which led her to her own life – as her way of resolving the mess, the family was in.

Justice stacked against the family

Although Maya was allowed home to the care of her father, after her mother’s death, the family’s woes were far from over.

The Kowalski family embarked on a five-year battle to take the Johns Hopkin Hospital and state authorities to court. They sought to get justice for the unnecessary harm and distress caused to Maya- not only because she had lost her mother, but also due to the blatant disregard for her health.

Yet astonishingly, the court system seemed to be caving to the hospital- which was determined to keep the case out of the courts. Maya and her family were denied the closure they desperately needed because the judge kept putting the case back. The family’s attorney was upfront about the challenges faced in getting justice, in a system that seems stacked against them.

Lessons need to be learned

I can fully empathise with the Kowalski family, and their desire to get the officials to admit to their mistakes. Unless lessons are learned, more families will find themselves in the same predicament.

How many more false allegations will it take, before it is taken seriously?

As a survivor of child abuse, I do of course want the genuine abusers to be brought to task. However, it really isn’t productive for wrongful accusations to be taking up resources- and hardly surprising that genuine cases of abuse then get missed.

Thankfully the Kowalski family’s case will finally be heard in court in September (2023), and they may get the justice that they so need. Undoubtedly Maya has a long journey ahead of her, to begin healing from the trauma this has caused her. It is understandable that the family wants to prevent this kind of injustice from happening to yet more families.

Final thoughts…

This was a harrowing, but very informative, documentary- which highlighted failures in the American health care system, the state social services, and the justice system as well.

The case of the Kowalski family is one of many cases across America. In which families are torn apart, false allegations made, and lives ruined, by a system that clearly fails these people.

If you watch this documentary, then I would have Kleenex at hand- because it is sure to leave you feeling very emotional.

Published by Karen Burns

A 50-year-old mother of 3. Graduated from Warwick University in 2021 (with a degree in Social Studies). I have chronic illness, which affects my mobility. However, I love writing and I am a prolific writer of poetry as well.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: