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Top from right to left: Kayla and Melissa Diegel, Emily Bracamontes – Bottom from right to left: Zachary Sparks, Jayden Ybarra. Some of the many who have been kidnapped by Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Health Impact News

Earlier this month (October 2014) we reported the sad story of the Diegel family, who had their two daughters seized by Phoenix Children’s Hospital for disagreeing with the doctors over their treatment. We have previously reported many similar stories of hospitals using Child Protection Services (CPS) to remove children from loving parents simply for disagreeing with doctors, such as Justina Pelletier at Boston Children’s Hosptial, and Isaiah Rider at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Behind each of these stories is a link to experimental drug trials for the same medical conditions these children were suffering. This prompted a group of lawmakers on Capital Hill to introduce new legislation to stop this kind of medical experimentation on children who are seized from parents and made wards of the state (see: “Justina’s Law” Seeks to End Experimental Medical Research on Children Seized by Child Protection Services).

History of Phoenix Problems in Medical Kidnapping

Since publishing the Diegel family story, Health Impact News has been approached by many families with similar experiences with CPS in Phoenix, and with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. What we have learned in our investigation is truly troubling, and needs to be exposed by the media.

Like Melissa Diegel, who was threatened by family court with a gag order and ordered to take down her Facebook Page and other content documenting her family’s experience, these parents are terrified of coming forward and telling their story. Therefore, many of our sources for this story wish to remain anonymous. Some of them hold important positions within the community in the Phoenix area, but fear retaliation.

What we have learned is that while the problem of medical kidnapping is systemic and present in all 50 states, linked to federal funding for CPS and the foster care business, apparently it is “by far” worse in Arizona than any other state. One source said:

We have upwards of 15,000 kids in and out of home placement. It is a billion dollar business and more when the judges, lawyers, guardian ad litems, experts, cps case managers, cps administration, hospitals, physicians, foster parents, and court appointed attorneys are included. It is not uncommon for a hospital to bill AHCCCS (Medicaid) a million dollars a year on one child.

First, there are a many stories of medical kidnapping in Phoenix that are publicly available. We will highlight a few of the many.

Escape to Mexico to Avoid Medical Kidnapping


Norma Bracamontes with daughter Emily in Mexico. Photo courtesy KSWT 13 News.

In a 2012 story that was covered in the national mainstream media, Norma and Luis Bracamontes’ 11-year daughter, who had been diagnosed with leukemia, was being treated at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH). But while she was in the hospital, she developed a serious infection in her arm that caused her arm to be amputated. The parents became very concerned about the kind of treatment she was receiving, especially when doctors inserted a catheter into her heart.

However, PCH would not allow the parents to take their daughter to another hospital. So in an action that was captured on the hospital’s security camera and broadcast to the whole country via the mainstream media, Norma took her daughter into a bathroom, removed her IV, and walked out of the hospital with her daughter. You can watch the original report on NBCLatino here.

Phoenix police searched for the girl and her mother, stating that the girl’s life was in extreme danger, and that she would die if she was not returned to the hospital.

However, the parents stated just the opposite. They stated the hospital was already responsible for her losing her arm, and they were concerned their daughter’s life was in extreme danger if they continued to allow PCH to hold their daughter. So they escaped to Mexico.

Once safe in Mexico, the mother and daughter appeared to the media to prove that the daughter was safe, and that she was getting better in the care of her Mexican doctors. You can watch the interview on the Today Show here. They were also interviewed by the local media on KSWT News 13 here, where the mother explains that PCH would not release the daughter unless she applied for health insurance.

The parents action, while quite possibly saving the child’s life, resulted in them becoming criminals and fugitives in Phoenix, as local police there say they face arrest for “child endangerment and abuse.”

Using Psychological Diagnosis of Parent to Seize Children


Rachel Sparks had her children removed even when a report stated they should be returned.

In a report covered by 3TV in Phoenix in 2012, Rachel Sparks had her son snatched right from her arms from CPS due to a psychological diagnosis and drugs her doctor had prescribed to her. Her doctor made a mistake in prescribing a dose too high, which landed her in the hospital. She was alleged to be unfit to care for her autistic son, so they took him away from her. Her son became suicidal in foster care, missing his mother so much.

There was no evidence of Rachel abusing or not being able to care for her children. So when months turned into years, 3TV in Phoenix got involved. They uncovered internal documents with the CPS showing that a team of specialists wrote: “There are no risk factors at this time as client has met her goals above and beyond showing strength and stability in safe parenting.” Yet, he was not returned until a year and half later, after an attorney picked up the case pro bono and obtained a court order to have him returned.

For Sparks, it has been a long and painful journey.

“It’s scary – I’m still scared,” she said. “Not that I’ve done anything wrong but that this can happen to regular people.”

Still Sparks says she’s a survivor — and so are her kids.

“My kids are my life,” she tells us. “They are the reason I am living.”

Read the full story and watch the video here.

The Arizona 5 – Heal Your Kids Naturally and You Lose Them


To understand some of the rationale behind the medical industry and the development of new drugs, one must understand that modern medicine is dependent to a large extent on the field of genetics. This is the “new frontier” in drugs. Therefore, to present the cure or remedy to a disease based on environmental causes, such as toxins in our environment, is a threat to this theory. It suggests there are natural, not patent-able, non-pharmaceutical solutions outside of the drug industry. (See: Genetics Research Fraud: Your Genes do NOT Determine Your Health.)

When the source of the toxins causing sickness is a pharmaceutical product to begin with, like a vaccine, then there is a double threat to the powerful pharmaceutical industry.

There is probably no field of modern medicine so contentious and so full of fraud as the field of vaccines and autism. (See: Vaccine Scandals and Criminal Cases Increase in 2014.)

In 2010 when a family of five children who were all diagnosed with autism began to see improvement in their children using natural remedies and diet, they had their children taken away from them by CPS at the order of doctors at PCH.

Dr. Andrew Wakefied became aware of the family while giving a lecture in Phoenix in 2010, and became so interested in their case that he wrote a book about them: Waging War on the Autistic Child: The Arizona 5 and the Legacy of Baron von Munchausen (Skyhorse Publishing). Here is an excerpt from the introduction to the book:

As the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders grows each year, new discoveries and controversies arise. Andrew Wakefield explores many of these in his thorough investigation of the recent trial case of the “Arizona 5,” which destroyed an Arizona family. Two parents, with five children on the spectrum, were accused of Münchausen syndrome by proxy—a rare form of child abuse—and were ganged up on by physicians, child protective services, and the courts, who alleged that the parents fabricated medical symptoms in all five children. However, Wakefield now presents ample evidence that was disregarded and which would have proven the parents’ innocence.

Families affected by autism suffer great hardship and prejudice, particularly as they navigate the uncertain waters of diagnosis, treatment, and education. The shocking story of the Arizona 5 family delves into the tremendous challenges some parents have to face, especially if their views on how to treat the syndrome don’t align with the medical world’s standards. Wakefield also includes numerous studies and research trials that support the controversial yet significant roles that vaccines and diet play in autism, factors many medical professionals wrongfully dismiss.

To watch an interview with Dr. Wakefield and family members, go here.

Using the Field of Psychology to Kidnap Children at PCH

In almost every single case of medical kidnapping we have covered here at Health Impact News, a psychologist or psychiatrist is used to justify removing the children from the parents. And this seems to be especially true with PCH as well.

One person from Arizona told us that PCH uses an out-of-state psychologist that is not licensed in Arizona to come in and review cases where children are removed from parents. This is what they told us about the procedure PCH uses to medically kidnap children:

In Arizona when a physician or hospital commits a medical mistake there is a well planned procedural process that takes place immediately.

The child is immediately moved to a special room within the hospital. The special room is wired for audio and video with the capacity to pick up sounds and visuals from every angle except the bathroom. The child is recorded 24/7 or until they develop enough circumstantial evidence to make accusations that the mother has done something to or with the child.

Then the physicians have the hospital social worker call CPS and state, “it is not in the child’s best interest to return home with the mother as it will impede the child’s recovery”. 

CPS then comes to the hospital and takes control of the child and the parent is forbidden from seeing the child.

Then Dr. Kathryn Coffman who works for the hospital and the doctors that called in to CPS and Brenda Bursch PhD., who subcontracts with the state of Arizona, begin an extensive review of the medical records, “but” not all of the medical records. “Only” medical records that draw a picture that mother possibly did something to the child. This is not evidence but only pure conjecture. The court never is told the true condition of the child. That is hidden and exculpatory evidence is hidden as well.

It is my understanding that Brenda Bursch PhD. is on at least 12 cases like this in Arizona. She is an out-of-state psychologist that is not licensed in Arizona but is allowed to practice here for 20 days each year.

It is unethical for a psychologist to wear more than one hat on a case. Not so in Arizona! I attempted to file complaints with the California Psychology Board. They sort of snickered and said that she is not doing anything wrong in California so it is none of their concern.

I and multiple other parents and citizens filed complaints with the Arizona Psychology Board. The Arizona Attorney General’s Office blocked those complaints saying that she is not licensed in Arizona so they have no jurisdiction. There were at least five complaints that I know of and all were blocked. I am attaching a “white paper” I did to demonstrate the number of hats out-of-state psychologists wear here in Arizona on these cases. The state picks them up at the airport and transports them to their hotel and to and from court proceedings at no charge. (Possibly a gift of state funds and possibly tampering with a witness to draw sympathy or share information.)

Here is a list of inappropriate ways the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Child Protective Services branch, contracts and uses “out-of-state” psychologists:

  • These “out-of-state” psychologists are not licensed in Arizona.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologists are not accountable in the state of Arizona to the Arizona Psychology Board.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologists are not accountable in the state they are licensed in because their valid actions and inappropriate actions happen inside of Arizona and not in their home states.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologists are not contracted through the normal bidding process.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologist’s contracts are not available on the Arizona Procurement site and have to be specifically requested.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologists are not fingerprinted in Arizona or background check by Arizona.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologists do not have to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) nor the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); even though it is in their contract with the State of Arizona.
  • These “out-of-state” psychologists unethically wear more than one “hat” simultaneously;
    • Evaluator
    • Expert Witness
    • Consultant to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Child Protective Services
    • Consultant to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office
    • Coordinator of Services and Treatment
    • Treatment Consultant
    • Trainer to Providers
    • Consultant to Provider Agencies Providing Services in the same case
  • CPS workers take these confidential Parent Psychological Evaluations completed by “out-of-state” psychologists and share them with their children, spouses, family members, inmates, and others without the knowledge of the person evaluated or the permission of the person evaluated. Clear violations of ethics, confidentiality and the law.

Governor Jan Brewer’s Role?

In January of 2014 Arizona Govenor Janice Brewer completely abolished the state’s Child Protection Agency via an executive order. In its place, she appointed all funds to be handled by her own representative, Charles Flanagan. Mr. Flangan became the director of the “Division of Child Safety and Family Services.”  The reason given for abolishing CPS was that there were 6,500 abuse and neglect cases filed that were not properly investigated.

So now Gov. Brewer has complete control of the agency that is responsible for these medical kidnappings. Is she part of the solution, or part of the problem?

The victims of the system claim she is part of the problem, not the solution. She has allegedly never responded to any of the complaints from families who have requested help after having their children seized by medical authorities via an out-of-state psychologist who is not even licensed in Arizona.

Today, Arizona has by far the highest rate of children removed from their homes and placed in foster care of any other state in the U.S. While most other states in the U.S. are seeing declines in foster care placements, Arizona is seeing the biggest percentage of increase among U.S. states. Over the past decade, Arizona had the second-largest increase in the nation, adding 7,296 children. Texas, with 4 times the population, had the most with 8,294. (Source.)

Children Abducted for Drug Trials?

Some parents, such as Melissa Diegel, have spoken out against what they see are medical experimentations on their children as part of drug trials to develop new drugs. As we have reported previously in our coverage of the Diegel family situation, just prior to the state taking custody of the two Diegel sisters, they were examined by several different doctors at PCH, all in the field of genetics. It was during this time that the girls were diagnosed with “congenital disorder of glycosylation” (CDG).

Unknown to the parents at the time, there was funding and drug trials going on for this rare condition. The glycosylation drug trial through NHGRI/ TGEN opened up on March 14th, 2014, just 3 weeks before the two Phoenix sisters were medically kidnapped.

As we reported above, drug trials and new drug development today are dependent on genetic research. In this area, Arizona is a leader. The new Translational Genomics Research Institute is in downtown Phoenix. You can see the board of directors here, which includes Arizona governor Jan Brewer and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton.

In addition, PCH just announced this month that billionaire doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong had joined Phoenix Children’s Hospital to open a new “Groundbreaking Pediatric Genomic Research and Translational Precision Medicine Institute.”

Forbes calls Dr. Soon-Shiong “the richest doctor who ever lived.”

It would seem they need plenty of new patients in pediatrics for drug trials for all this new research to have any “success.”

Parents Terrorized from Speaking Out

As we mentioned earlier, when children are abducted and placed into the foster care system via family court, the parents are threatened, and usually hit with gag orders against speaking out. This was done to Melissa Diegel a couple of weeks ago. When Health Impact News first reported her story, gathered from facts collected by an advocacy group which started a Facebook Page, the court ordered her to tell us to take down our story.

We did not. As the story stayed up and went viral, we started hearing from others with very similar stories, particularly from Arizona. We will begin to document them and publish them on our new website, The website is still under construction, but if anyone wants to tell us their story they can contact us here.

Just before the court ordered Melissa to take down her Facebook Page and all social media regarding her children and her fight to expose what was happening at PCH, she was interviewed on in September. Here is an excerpt we extracted from the interview, and we are sure it is a message she wants all of America to hear, a message certain people are trying hard to suppress:

You can listen to the full interview here.

GoFundMe – To help Melissa with her legal fees in fighting to get her children back!


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