Doctor: Beagley’s condition was ‘mind-boggling’
Medical experts in the faith-healing trial of Marci and Jeff Beagley, whose son Neil died due to an inflammation in his urinary system, said Neil’s condition was the worst they’d ever seen with that condition for his age.
Prosecutors today showed autopsy photos and discussed the particulars of what happened in the death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, whose parents are charged with criminally negligent homicide in his death.
In Thursday’s testimony, pediatric urologist Patrick O’Hollaren said Neil’s case was the worst he’d ever seen, a 10 out of 10 in severity.
Dr. Clifford Nelson, deputy state medical examiner, said Neil Beagley was born with a posterior urethral valve obstruction, which made urination difficult. Over time, pressure from the blockage distorted Beagley’s bladder and urinary system.
The condition, which affects only males, occurs once in 8,000 to 10,000 births. About 95 percent of the time it is detected by ultrasound before birth or by problems urinating after birth.
An undetected case involving a teenager is unheard of, Nelson said. “I don’t know anybody who has ever seen a case like this. … “It’s probably the only one I’ll ever see in my career.”
The condition took a terrible toll on the boy, said Nelson, who used several autopsy photos to show Neil’s damaged and deformed organs.
A doctor considered an expert in the disease that killed a 16-year-old Oregon City boy told a jury Thursday that the boy could have been saved right up to the last minute if his faith-healing parents had sought medical care.
Dr. Patrick O’Hollaren said Neil Beagley would be alive despite advanced kidney disease caused by a congenital problem that caused urine to back up into his body from birth.
“He could be standing here today, no question in my mind,” O’Hollaren said. “It’s just mind-boggling.”
The teen’s parents, Jeff and Marci Beagley, are on trial in Clackamas County on criminally negligent homicide charges in the June 2008 death of their only son.
The Beagleys are members of the Followers of Christ Church and reject doctors in favor of faith healing through prayer, anointing with oil and laying on hands.
Their granddaughter died in March 2008 of pneumonia and a blood infection that could have been treated, resulting in manslaughter charges against the Beagley’s daughter, Raylene Worthington, and her husband, Carl Brent Worthington.
Another Clackamas County jury acquitted the Worthingtons of manslaughter in the death of their 15-month-old daughter, Ava, but found Carl Brent Worthington guilty of the lesser charge of criminal mistreatment.
The case against the Beagleys has become the second major test of Oregon law changed in 1999 to limit faith healing as a legal defense following a public outcry over a series of child deaths among members of the church.
Theologically, the Followers of Christ church is a cult of Christianity. It’s extreme stance on faith healing is unbiblical, and places the church outside the boundaries of the Christian faith. Sociologically the church should also be considered a destructive cult, as its practices are harmful to its followers and/or their dependents.