The Sad, Scary Saga of Justina Pelletier

Originally Published: Slate.com

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A Massachusetts judge on Tuesday granted the state “permanent custody” of an ill teenager who has spent the last year caught up in a dispute between her family on one side and Boston Children’s Hospital and the state Department of Children and Families on the other. While many facts are in dispute, one thing is clear: Justina Pelletier spent the past year in a locked psych ward, even though doctors disagree about whether her condition is psychiatric.

It’s easy to follow Justina’s case on Twitter and get caught up in the outrage. What’s surprising is to read up on it and have your outrage legitimized.

According to Patricia Wen’s excellent reporting in the Boston Globe, Justina had been a patient of Mark Korson, a metabolic disorders specialist at Tufts, for several years. He had diagnosed her with a mitochondrial disease that caused her to have trouble eating and walking. During a particularly scary spell in February 2013, he told her parents to take her to Boston Children’s to see a former Tufts colleague of his, a gastroenterologist.

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