A judge Wednesday refused to return a 7-month-old girl to her parents, members of an Oregon City church that embraces faith healing, after hearing testimony that the child could lose vision in one eye because she didn’t get medical care.
Details of the child’s condition emerged during a four-hour Clackamas County Circuit Court hearing.
The parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, asked Judge Douglas V. Van Dyk to return the child, now in foster care, and promised that they would provide whatever treatment was required by the court or the state Department of Human Services.
But Van Dyk denied the request, noting that doctors are still assessing the child’s condition and devising a treatment plan. “The risks are great for this child,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Wylands could face criminal charges.
“There is still an ongoing criminal investigation” and the case is likely to be presented to a grand jury, said Colleen Gilmartin, the deputy district attorney handling the juvenile court case.
The Wylands belong to the Followers of Christ church, which rejects secular medicine and relies on faith-healing rituals — laying on of hands, anointing with oil, prayer and fasting — to treat illnesses. The state medical examiner’s office has reported that during the past 30 years more than 20 children of church members have died of preventable or curable illnesses.
The Wylands’ daughter, Alayna, had a small discoloration over her left eye when she was born.
The area started swelling and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to shut, pushed the eyeball down and outward, and affected the eye socket, said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University.
“This was medical neglect,” said Valvano, who testified at the hearing. Alayna could lose vision in her left eye and probably will need surgery, he said.
The Wylands said they never considered getting medical attention for the growth and would not have if DHS had not intervened.