Maya Kowalski from harrowing Netflix doc Take Care Of Maya shares health update
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Maya Kowalski – the star of a heartbreaking new Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya – has shared a health update after years of suffering from chronic pain.
Maya was just nine years old when she started experiencing mysterious asthma attacks and headaches in 2015, along with lesions forming on her body and severe foot cramps, and was later diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Maya gained mobility back in her arms and her legs began to straighten, but she ended up relapsing just one year later - at which point parents Jack and Beata rushed her to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Things then took a nightmarish turn when mum Beata - a registered nurse - was accused of medical child abuse, with Maya later taken into state custody.
Beata was prevented from seeing her daughter after being accused of having Munchausen by proxy, a mental illness and form of child abuse where a parent makes up fake symptoms or causes real symptoms to make it look like the child is sick.
A psychological evaluation established she did not have the illness, but she was still not allowed to see her daughter.
Growing increasingly hopeless, three months after Maya was taken off her, Beata took her own life.
The family’s heartbreaking story is now being told in a new Netflix documentary, which viewers have found to be a ‘gut-wrenching’ watch.
The official synopsis says: "In 2016, Jack and Beata Kowalski took their daughter, Maya, to a hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"The 10-year-old was admitted to the ER with a severe stomach ache. Instead of a quick hospital stay, Maya was taken from her parents and kept there.
“The tragedy that unfolded next is the subject of the investigative documentary Take Care of Maya, a troubling exploration of how a fractured healthcare industry tore a family apart.”
In an interview with People about the documentary earlier this month, Maya – who is now 17 – shared an update on her health.
She told the outlet that she now has full use of her arms and legs, but still finds herself crying out in agony some nights.
“I do my best to push through,” she said.
“I’ve already missed a lot, so I want to make the most of life now.”
Five days after Beata died, Maya was released into her dad’s custody and returned to her home in Venice, Florida.
Jack said the family had to turn to other therapies, telling the outlet: “We worked with her slowly: water therapy, things like that.
“But it was horrible — after losing my wife, I thought my daughter was next.”
The family have since filed a lawsuit against the hospital, with a trial scheduled for September.
“For us as a family to move on, we need to fulfil my mom’s wish and fight,” Maya said.
“I want justice for my mom.”
A spokesperson from Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital told People: "Our first responsibility is always to the child brought to us for care, and we are legally obligated to notify the Department of Children and Families (DCF) when we detect signs of possible abuse or neglect.
“It is DCF that investigates the situation and makes the ultimate decision about what course of action is in the best interest of the child."
Take Care of Maya is available to watch on Netflix now.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123