leukemia

Dad of missing cancer patient, 11: 'She's in very good hands'

Dec. 5, 2012 at 9:47 AM ET

Parents of a young leukemia patient whisked out of a Phoenix hospital last week say that she is fine and getting care now in Mexico.

Emily Bracamontes, 11, was last seen on surveillance cameras with her mother walking through Phoenix Children's Hospital, ducking into a bathroom. In an interview with NBC News in California, Emily’s father, Luis, said that his wife removed their daughter from the hospital because of concerns over his daughter's care. Bracamontes told NBC News there was also pressure from the hospital regarding the family’s insurance and the mounting bills from Emily’s treatment.

Bracamontes says his daughter is doing well and is being treated in Mexico, although he declined to say exactly where.

“She’s well,” Bracamontes, 46, told NBC News. “She’s fine. She is in very good hands now.“

Over the weekend Bracamontes was questioned by the border patrol as he crossed back into the United States from Mexico. He says he had nothing to do with the little girl’s removal from the Arizona hospital.

Emily’s mother spoke on the phone to NBC from Mexico:  “I am the one who took Emily from the hospital,” she said.

Emily spoke by phone to her dad:

“Hi daddy,” Emily said.

“How are you,” Luis asked

“Good,” she answered.

Phoenix police are still looking for the little girl and her mom and have suggested that the parents might be guilty of child endangerment. The concern is that once Emily’s mom disconnected her from her IV tubing, there was a risk of infection through the catheter that is threaded into her skin, through a major vein and terminating in her heart.

“There is a criminal element to this from the standpoint that we don’t know the motive or the reason why the mom removed Emily from the hospital,” said Sgt. Steve Martos. “We’ve been told by doctors that the minute the little girl gets an infection, certainly just a matter of days, could result in her death. “

Dr. Clinton Coil, a patient safety officer at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, explained that some catheters are meant to be used long term.

“There are catheters that a patient can have for days or even weeks without having any problems,” Coil, who is not one of Emily’s doctors, explained. “Other catheters are designed for short term use.”

Ultimately, Coil said, “Parents want what’s best for their child.”

Emily’s parents, who have not been charged with a crime, say they were concerned about a bacterial infection that developed in Emily’s right arm that eventually led to the arm being amputated.

“I’m very upset, angry and without any answers about what happened,” Luis Bracamontes said. “And why we were treated this way.”

The hospital, prohibited by federal law from talking about the child’s medical treatment, declined to be interviewed by NBC News, but released a statement.

“Phoenix Children’s Hospital is deeply concerned about Emily’s safety and well-being,” the statement read. “If Emily’s family has questions about her care, we encourage open communication and discussions of options with the care team.  Clinical decisions are not based on ability to pay."

For his part, Luis Bracamontes says his only concern is for his daughter.

 "This was done for Emily," he said. "I want justice for Emily."

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