HOUSTON—A Missouri City girl is fighting brain cancer while her parents fight to keep custody of her.
Aeriel Brown’s parents say Child Protective Services tore their family apart because they simply disagreed with the doctors’ treatment plan.
The 13-year-old girl became ill two months ago.
"One day she was fine, the next day we’re in the emergency room," said her father Eric Brown.
In early April, the middle school cheerleader became completely lethargic. Doctors discovered a malignant brain tumor. Since then she has undergone five major surgeries.
Aeriel’s dad said a lot of things went wrong at Texas Children’s Hospital.
"The doctor confessed that some kind of way with the line, he punctured the tumor with the line and the line got clogged up with tumor pieces," Brown said. "We were catching them in a lot of neglect and reporting them and they couldn’t put up with that anymore."
CPS was called in and Brown and his wife lost custody of their daughter.
"We are responding to a child that is in danger of dying," said Gwen Carter with CPS.
KHOU 11 News legal analyst Gerald Treece said he is not surprised.
"When it gets to ‘they said versus they said’ the courts usually go with the medical doctors," he said.
But Brown said the last straw was the family’s refusal to put their daughter in a research study.
"We refused that because we didn’t come to get her researched. We came to get her healed," he said.
Brown is a naturopathic doctor, who believes in taking a holistic approach to healing. He said doctors didn’t want any input on treatment options.
"I guess they’re intimidated by me because I’m willing to talk up. I’m a Christian. I don’t curse. I’ve never cursed anyone, but I do speak my mind," he said.
CPS moved Aeriel to M.D. Anderson. Neither hospital would talk to KHOU 11 News, citing strict privacy laws. But both responded in writing.
M.D. Anderson said: "We have been working with the family....This cancer is very rare (but) success with the standard therapy is high."
Texas Children’s Hospital stated: "We believed Aeriel’s safety and the safety of our staff was in question so the hospital took precautions....Our thoughts continue to be with this patient and family."
The hospital only allows the dad to visit his daughter from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A video the family captures appears to show him being escorted by security.
The judge who awarded CPS custody of Aeriel has hearings every week. That’s unusual, Treece said.
"Instead of just ordering it and saying, ‘If you don’t like it, file another motion to modify,’ the judge is monitoring this. And the judge at any time can say, ‘Parents win. The medical emergency’s over,’" he said.
Brown said faith is all he has now. And he said that is all he, his family and Aeriel need.
"I ask her, ‘Where is Jesus?’ She says, ‘inside of me,’ and so that’s my peace. I know that she continues to remember that Jesus Christ is her Lord," Brown said.
Eric Brown appeared in court for the latest hearing on Wednesday, hoping to be able to take Aeriel home. But CPS said the child should stay in the hospital until at least June 1, 2012.
"It’s a roller coaster, and all I can do is say I’m grounded in the Lord, and I’m just trying to keep my family grounded. [Because] if you look at what you hear and put your faith in that, you know, you will, you will like I say you’ll be on Prozac, so I’m a stay on Jesus," Brown said.