CALLER TIMES - Wernecke: Katie is making own decisions
State hopes order limiting contact with her parents will sway actions
By KATHYRN GARCIA Caller-Times -September 22, 2005
With the recent order limiting contact between 13-year-old cancer patient Katie Wernecke and her parents, state officials hope they can persuade Katie to stop resisting the treatment that could save her life.
Katie's custody will be determined at a permanency hearing scheduled for November, at which time Juvenile Judge Carl Lewis, or another judge, could decide to terminate the Wernecke's parental rights, said Child Protective Services spokesman Aaron Reed. "At that point, we'll have to make a decision as to what the child's plan is either for reunification with her parents or termination of parental rights or continued custody," Reed said.
Katie's father, Edward Wernecke, said she is making her own decisions about treatment and that he is worried he would lose custody of his daughter and never see her again.
While recovering from open-heart surgery Tuesday, Juvenile Judge Carl Lewis signed an order preventing Katie's father from any communication with his daughter and limiting contact with Katie's mother, Michele Wernecke, to only supervised visits. "I am convinced now that they are actively preventing the treatment from occurring through their contact with their daughter," Lewis said during an emergency hearing he called Monday after visiting Katie at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
As of Wednesday morning, Katie had continued to resist a prescribed treatment of high-dose chemotherapy followed by radiation to treat Katie's Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes, Reed said. Katie had been trying to pull catheters from her arms, disobeying doctor's orders and refusing to bathe. "My fear is that she continues to refuse treatment, that at some point the judge will decide that there's literally nothing we can do, and she'll go home to her parents, and she very well could die," Reed said.
Katie has been in state custody since June 4 after her parents refused radiation treatments for her disease. Katie's doctors recommend she undergo high-dose chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy, which should kill the tumor. The treatment also will weaken her immune system, requiring her to remain in isolation for several weeks. When Katie was first diagnosed with cancer, she had a 90 percent chance of survival. Now her chances have reduced considerably, Reed said.
Edward said he and his wife are heartbroken and are not encouraging Katie to resist the treatment. Katie's cell phone and computer have been taken away, Edward said. "This is Katie's choice, not mine and not Michele's," Edward said in a previous interview.
Contact Kathryn Garcia at 886-3792 Copyright 2005, Caller.com. All Rights Reserved.