KATIE MAY TRY OTHER THERAPY
By Jaime Powell Caller-TimesOctober 22, 2005
Katie Wernecke's parents will be allowed to take their daughter to Kansas to meet with a doctor who believes he can treat her cancer with intravenous Vitamin C.
But first, Katie must undergo five days of traditional chemotherapy at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
District Judge Jack Hunter, who was appointed to the case just two days ago, ruled Friday that Katie's parents could take her to the Kansas doctor, even though that trip could put her life at risk.
Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Wells, the pediatric oncologist treating 13-year-old Katie in Houston, said the chances of Katie beating her disease are now between 20 percent and 25 percent because of repeated delays in getting her the proper care.
Wells told Hunter on Friday that if Katie had undergone the proper treatment after she was diagnosed in January, she would have had an 85 percent chance of beating the disease.
The attorneys involved in Katie's case were in Hunter's court Friday after Katie's parents tried to stop a round of chemotherapy treatment that was to begin this weekend. They argued that the treatment was experimental and that they had not been properly informed of it.
The move was the most recent of several attempts by Katie's parents to stop treatment for her Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. They have resisted treatment because they believe the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation could hurt her more than the disease.
"My job is to save this baby, and I'm going to do it," Hunter said.
This summer, Juvenile Court Judge Carl Lewis ordered Katie into the care of state officials after her parents, Edward and Michele Wernecke, were accused of medical neglect.
James Pikl, an attorney for the parents, told Hunter Friday that they want more control over the girl's care and they would like to use a combination of nutrition therapy and a regimen that involves intravenous doses of Vitamin C to treat her.
Pikl asked Hunter to stall chemotherapy for seven days so her parents could take her to Kansas for a consultation.
Wells told Hunter that the consequences could be disastrous. "I think it would harm her, and she may die," he said. "She may die anyway."
Edward Wernecke declined to comment Friday.
Hunter ordered Katie to undergo the next round of chemotherapy, but he also ordered that her parents could take her to Kansas for a consultation on the alternative treatment, despite Wells' testimony that it is not a viable option.
Assistant County Attorney Tom Stuckey, who represents state officials, said if the Werneckes are allowed to leave Texas with their daughter, there must be measures to protect the girl.
Previously, Michele Wernecke fled state officials as they attempted to care for the girl. She was subsequently arrested, but all charges were dropped. Edward Wernecke also has been accused of interfering with the girl's treatment, and Lewis had signed a previous order preventing him from visiting his daughter. The Texas Supreme Court later overruled that decision, and Lewis stepped aside to let another judge hear the case.
Stuckey said he wants to prevent Edward Wernecke from accompanying his daughter and wants a state caseworker to supervise the trip. He also asked Hunter to order a bond to give the Werneckes an incentive to return.
Hunter has not made a decision on those two requests, and the attorneys are working on a compromise.
Contact Jaime Powell at
886-3716 or email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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