Diabetic Child Dies While Parents Pray

Madeleine Neumann, an 11 year old type 1 diabetic, died March 23rd due to lack of treatment for her condition. Her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, viewed their daughters worsening condition as “a test of faith,” and instead of getting her medical help, let her die while they prayed. The parents have been charged with second-degree reckless homicide and face up to 25 years in prison.

Following the death, an autopsy was performed that showed Madeleine died of undiagnosed diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which leaves the body depleted of insulin. DKA primarily occurs in type 1 diabetics (such as juvenile diabetics), since it is characterized by extremely low levels of insulin circulating in the body (meaning the pancreas is secreting deficient levels of insulin, the main characteristic of type 1 diabetes).

Medical examiners believe that Madeleine likely showed symptoms of DKA for months, emphasizing the parents neglect. Symptoms of DKA include extreme thirst, constant urination, weakness and nausea, as well as fever and skin irritation.

Many of these symptoms were likely present in Madeleine, and the Neumanns persistently disregarded the encouragements of family and friends to get their daughter medical help. According to the Madeleines grandmother, Evalani Gordon, on March 22nd Madeleine could neither walk nor talk, yet still no medical attention was provided.

The Neumanns did not belong to a specific organized religious sect, but were firm believers in the literalness of the bible, and thought that illness was a result of sin, and healing came only from God.

This tragic instance emphasizes the importance of diagnosing and treating diabetes. It’s a serious disease that can kill even children when unattended to. It of course also provides an example of fanaticism resulting in harm, leaving a sick girl in need of medical attention to her parents misguided faith, and eventually dead.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Rucker, Donald. “Diabetic Ketoacidosis.” eMedicine. February 2008. Dailypress.com. “Parents Who Prayed As Diabetic Child Died Charged.” April 29 2008.