A border patrol official has conceded that a 8-year-old girl who died in U.S. custody would still be alive had officials reacted differently to her parent’s pleas for medical intervention, according to a statement given to CBS.
In May, 8 year old Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez and her family spent more than a week awaiting processing at Border Patrol facilities near the Texas border. She would not live to see her release. Days after arriving Anadith began to complain of abdominal pain, exhibited respiratory symptoms, and tested positive for the flu.
Anadith, her mother, and her sister were placed in isolation at a facility in Harlington, Texas. At the facility, doctors treated her with ice packs, fever and flu medication, and cold showers, but her condition rapidly deteriorated. The girl had a more than 104 degree fever, and despite pleas from herself and her mother, was not transferred to a hospital.
A CPB official, who spoke to CBS under conditions of anonymity (and with the approval of the agency) stated that it was his “clinical opinion that were she treated differently that she would be alive today.”
“They told me no,” Mabel Alvarez, Anadith’s mother, told CBS News. “They wouldn’t call an ambulance until she passed out — not before.”
“A Border Patrol agent didn’t believe me. He stood in front of my daughter and told her, ‘Tell me how you can’t breathe because a girl that can’t breathe would be passing out and you’re not passing out, you’re fine,’” Alvarez added.
On the day of her death, May 17, despite being seen multiple times by the station’s medical professionals, Anadith was only taken to the hospital after seizing and becoming unresponsive. A CPB report states that the nurse practitioner attending to Anadith “reported denying three or four requests from the girl’s mother for an ambulance to be called or for her to be taken to the hospital.”
Alvarez told CBS that when an ambulance was finally called it took only about 5 minutes to arrive. “That’s when I realized how close the hospital was to us and that they could’ve done something,” she said.
Anadith was declared dead less than an hour after the ambulance was called.
Anadith’s family agrees with CBP’s assessment that their daughter should have been treated differently, and allege that the reason she wasn’t was because of racial discrimination. “There’s no other word for it. You can search everywhere for an excuse but they discriminated against me for the color of my skin,” Alvarez told CBS.
An independent federal court monitor wrote in a Tuesday report that Anadith’s death was a “preventable tragedy that resulted from a series of failures in the CBP medical and custodial systems for children.”