The stories of kids living with debilitating illnesses are often heartbreaking, and too many of their families must turn to crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe to cover their steep medical bills. Such was the case for one 8-year-old Dallas boy for his entire life — that is, until the horrifying revelation that, allegedly, his mom had subjected her healthy son to 13 unnecessary major surgeries. That's right, the boy, Christopher, had reportedly endured all those surgeries, hospice care, being tethered to a wheelchair, and much, much more for absolutely no reason, because he was never sick. Instead, his mom, as Cosmopolitan reported, Kaylene Bowen-Wright, spent nearly a decade convincing her community and medical professionals that he had, at times, a rare genetic disorder or terminal cancer, until it was all exposed as a lie.
It's a story that's almost too outlandish to believe, but it's tragically true. According to Dallas' Star-Telegram, Christopher's father tried for years to convince the court that his son was not the terminal patient his mother unwaveringly insisted he was. As a result, the publication reported, a Dallas County judge barred Ryan Crawford from seeing his son in late 2012 because of his refusal to acknowledge the boy's "illness." In the meantime, Bowen-Wright — who became pregnant unexpectedly while dating Crawford briefly — allegedly exposed Christopher to a medical world he never had to know.
Throughout his short life so far, Christopher has had 323 doctor's visits, according to Cosmopolitan. He's survived multiple life-threatening blood infections that were the result of the insertion of feeding tubes he never needed. He's endured tests and even ended up on the list for a lung transplant. Bowen-Wright also reportedly raised thousands of dollars via crowdfunding campaigns for his treatment, according to the Star-Telegram.
In 2014, when Christopher was 5 years old, CW33 TV covered a bike rally a group called "Christopher's Crew" staged to raise money to cover his medical bills. At the time, Bowen-Wright claimed that he suffered from a rare illness Arterio-Venous Malformation that his medical bills cost $30,00 each year.
Th piece ends with a line, penned by Shardae Neal, that is now haunting: "With his oxygen tank along for the ride, Christopher was able to be just another kid, playing with the rest of the kids on this beautiful day."
In reality, though, Christopher was always able to play and be "just another kid" in terms of his actual health. And it was 34-year-old Bowen-Wright who was sick, as the Star-Telegram reported. These sustained actions indicate that she has a mental disorder called Munchausen by proxy, according to Star-Telegram.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, this is now called Factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA) and causes a person to "act if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick."
Now, though, Bowen-Wright has been arrested after Dallas Hospital staff alerted Child Protective Services that they suspected medical abuse, according to the Star-Telegram. It was the second such report, the first having been made 2015. Christopher and his two half-siblings were removed from her care in late November, and Christopher remains in foster care. His father, Crawford, is still working to gain custody of him. And there is now another GoFundMe campaign going to make that happen — perhaps the first totally legitimate one ever associated with the child.
It's hard to really imagine all that Christopher has been through, and how he will deal with what happened to him in the years to come. It seems as though the best possible outcome is for him to be placed with a loving parent and to start living the life of the healthy child he always was.