A Sacramento couple is speaking out about their ordeal after their five-month-old son was taken from their home by police and put into protective custody.
The nightmare began on April 23 when parents Anna and Alex Nikolayev brought their baby Sammy to the Sutter Memorial Hospital. Trips to the doctor are a regular event for the family because the little boy has a heart murmur and needs to be checked frequently. On this visit, he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Anna says she became concerned when she witnessed a nurse administering antibiotics, something another doctor had advised against. Then, a physician told them the baby needed open heart surgery as soon as possible. The couple put their son into his stroller and brought him directly another hospital, without receiving an official discharge, to obtain a second opinion. Doctors at Kaiser Parmanente Medical Center told them it was safe to return home with Sammy.
The next day, in an incident that was caught in a disturbing home video, police showed up at the Nikolayev's home and took him from the parents to place in protective custody. "I'm going to grab your baby and don't resist," says one officer. A statement from Sutter Memorial provided to ABC News reads: "Our nurses and physicians are bound by duty to call authorities if they believe a pediatric patient's healthy is in danger."
"A doctor, any doctor, any hospital, anyone, doesn't have the right to make decisions about a child's health care," The Nikolayev's lawyer, Joseph Weinberger, told the Today Show. Speaking about the day he was taken, mom Anna said, "I didn't know where my son was. They just took him…out of my hands. I didn't even know where to start or what to do."
After almost a week of only being able to visit Sammy for an hour a day, the Nikolayev's have been reunited with their son. On Monday, a judge ruled that he be moved to Stamford Medical Center where his condition is being evaluated. Although they have regained control of his medical decision, they have to allow Child Protectice Services (CPS) to visit their home and also agree never to remove him from a hospital without official discharge and appear in court on May 28. Sacremento CPS said in a statement: "The law is clear. If there is imminent risk of serious physical harm to the child and there is insufficient time to obtain a court order to remove the child from the care of the parents... the social worker or law enforcement officer can remove the child."
The Nikolayev's are overjoyed to be able to care for their son again feel some small measure of victory. "We've been asking is that we get the treatment in a different hospital, that we're going to have a second opinion," mom told Today. "That's all we've been asking for and we got it."
The family has received an outpouring of support including a Change.org petition. Sacramento News 10 reports that the parents say they have heard many stories who have experienced similar treatment and hope that the attention the case receives will lead to changes in the system.
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