A misdiagnosis leading to accusations of child abuse sent the Troy family into a three-year battle to reunite their family and clear their names. Now, Elgin mother Lorina Troy is telling her story everywhere she can in the hopes of spreading awareness of her family’s situation.
Troy’s son, JJ, was born with a medical condition called benign external hydrocephalus, a relatively common birth complication which causes a child’s head to rapidly enlarge due to a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid outside of the brain. When father Jason Troy took baby JJ to the hospital, concerned about his growing head, the physician diagnosed JJ with shaken baby syndrome and assumed Jason was abusing JJ. As a result, JJ and his older brother, Kainoa, were taken from Lorina and Jason by Child Protective Services for five months. The boys were returned home; however, Jason Troy still faced possible felony charges until the third attorney the family talked to in 2017 found the evidence of hydrocephalus in JJ’s medical records from the day he was born.
Since then, Lorina Troy has written a book about the family’s experiences, titled “Miracles of Faith,” and has shared her story with lawmakers and news outlets. Troy has also met with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Representative James Frank in an effort to raise awareness and change the laws surrounding child abuse diagnoses. Frank, the chair of the state House of Representatives Human Services Committee, also invited Troy to speak at a legislative hearing about misdiagnoses that lead to child abuse accusations.
During the 2019 Texas legislative session, the House of Representatives introduced a bill, sponsored by Human Services Committee members Stephanie Klick and Candy Noble, which would amend the law regarding health care specialty consultations in child abuse and neglect investigations. The bill was filed in the House of Representatives but did not pass the Senate; however, Troy said lawmakers plan to resubmit the bill in 2021.
“State Representative Frank said he thinks it didn’t get approved because the (Senate) didn’t know that this is a big problem,” Troy said. “That’s the main thing, people don’t really know that it’s a problem.”
The Troy family has also gathered media attention and were one of the families featured in Do No Harm, a series of investigations by NBC News and the Houston Chronicle looking at misdiagnoses that lead to unfounded claims of abuse.
Troy and her family are continuing to try and make changes to the laws and procedures so that it can protect families from going through this situation.
“The trauma the children and the parents go through can last for years,” she said. “It’s a really traumatic situation, to take a child from their parents and their home and put them in foster care with strangers. They need to be really cautious.”
Troy said there needs to be more awareness of the dangers of misdiagnosis within all the systems involved, from the medical system to law enforcement, to prevent false charges and wrongful convictions. She also stresses the importance of getting a second opinion, since she and other families she has spoken to were denied another medical opinion on their cases.
“We understand that child abuse happens and we’re against that,” she said. “But there’s also the other side to it, where they quickly assume the worst, remove the children, charge the parents, put them in jail, and it’s just a huge nightmare. If they were to just hire a second medical expert to correctly diagnose the child, and then go from there, it would help so much. That’s why we’re really trying to push for this law to be changed.”
Next, Troy plans to meet with a representative of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in her original hometown of San Diego, as well as Elgin Mayor Chris Cannon and Elgin’s state representative, John Cyrier. She is also working on a second book about her family’s experience.
“This is such a huge thing to raise awareness about, because it’s happening a lot more often than people are aware of,” Troy said. “There are other families that have children with the same medical condition, and they’re going through similar situations, according to the National Hydrocephalus Association.”