Oklahoma police are investigating the caretakers of a 23-year-old man with disabilities after he was admitted to OU Children’s Hospital weighing only 30 pounds.
According to KFOR, the investigation began after a severely malnourished and dehydrated man checked into the hospital for flu-like symptoms. At the hospital, the man weighed a shocking 30 pounds.
A reporter from KFOR made contact with the man’s grandmother Juanita Wooten to inquire about the man’s health. Wooten told KFOR that they decided to take him to the hospital after he went limp. She denied any mistreatment of her grandson and admitted to being his primary caretaker while his mother worked.
According to police, the man has a rare neurological condition that affects the muscles of his face. Because of the disease, he cannot feed or take care of himself. Labs completed at the hospital revealed that his sodium levels were extremely low. The low sodium levels indicated he was severely dehydrated and likely not provided enough water.
Doctors noted that the man also had sores all over his body. The wounds were likely a result from the man not moving, and caregivers were not repositioning him.
When KFOR asked Wooten the height of her grandson, she estimated he was around 5 feet tall. If the man is 5 feet tall and weighs 30 pounds, his Body Mass Index is only 5.9. A body mass index of 5.9 is extremely underweight.
Despite the man’s inability to feed himself, his mother told hospital staff that her son required no special diet or nutrition. Additionally, hospital records indicated the boy had not seen a doctor in at least four years.
Police say that the man is fighting for his life. After the police learned about the man, they took more than 150 photos inside and outside of his residence. The Department of Human Services is accusing the family of neglecting the man’s care.
Wooten told KFOR,
“I did not mistreat him or abuse him,” Juanita Wooten said. “None of our part but they are acting like there is.”
Because of the grave condition of the man, investigators have no idea how long the man will remain in the hospital. Police and DHS will continue to investigate the case and determine how to proceed with criminal charges.
If the man is not able to eat, and the family provided him no special diet, they neglected him. An average weight for a 5-foot tall man would be around 115 pounds. At only 30 pounds, he is 85 pounds underweight. A feeding tube could have been placed in the man to provide nutrition.Additionally, the man has a neurological condition and could not care for himself. Caregivers should have been taking him to his doctor’s appointment and managing his medical needs. As an adult, the man should have qualified for state assistance to ensure that he had proper medical insurance and social workers to oversee his caregivers.
There are many questions left unanswered to this story.
Why didn’t the man have a social worker?
Who was monitoring the man if he didn’t see a doctor?
Why weren’t his caregivers worried about his weight?
At this point, the man will be lucky if he survives. Hopefully, police arrest the caregivers for neglect and abuse of a vulnerable adult. If he survives, I hope that DHS removes the man from his mother’s custody. Vulnerable adults like this man depend on their caregivers to do everything for them. This family completely failed him.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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