A mother and father from southern Indiana want to tell their story after they say DCS threatened to take away their daughter because they chose to treat her seizures with cannabidiol oil or CBD instead of what the doctors at Riley Hospital for Children prescribed.
Twenty-month-old Jaelah Jerger suffers from myoclonic seizures. Some days her parents say she experiences up to 40 seizures. After little resolve her parents decided to use a legal cannabis extract to give Jaelah some relief. However, doctors at Riley prescribed a pharmaceutical the family didn't want to use.
"Our daughter was medically kidnapped by the state of Indiana by them forcing us to give her that medicine Keppra otherwise they were going to take her away from us that is the direct term of medical kidnapping period," said Jade Jerger, Jaelah's father.
The Jerger family says Jaelah saw a 95% reduction in seizures with the CBD oil. But when doctors at Riley found out she wasn't using the prescription, the family says the hospital alerted DCS, which then paid the family a visit and threatened to take Jaelah away after the hospital said the child was neglected and in danger.
"The worst week ever. It was terrifying just knowing that at any point in time they could show up and take our daughter without being valid and I didn't find it valid and a lot of people in Indiana and across the world don't find it valid," said Lelah Jerger, Jaelah's mother.
That's when the family's local state representative, Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, stepped in and called the governor's office and DCS on the family's behalf. Messmer says Riley overreacted and Indiana's new CBD oil law for children with epilepsy needs to be clarified to avoid this confusion for another family. House Bill 1148 allows the use of cannabidiol for treatment resistant epilepsy.
"For them to react with threats of taking the child and really putting that family through an excruciatingly you know stressful period for a week or two was heavy handed and an overreaction and just not necessary," Messmer said.
Even though the DCS case was eventually dropped, the family says they don't want to see another family live through a similar situation.
"If you believe what you're doing is right, then make sure that you're doing it for the safety of that child and that's all we were ever doing--making it safe for our daughter," Jerger said.
Riley says they can’t comment on specific cases. The family is now having their daughter treated in Louisville. As for clarifying the law, Messmer says he hopes to address that in the next session.