Couple Ignores Doctors Warning That Baby Could Die

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A Michigan Mother refused to seek medical treatment for her newborn daughter – even after a midwife warned her that the infant’s jaundice could lead to brain damage or even death, according to police.

“God makes no mistakes,” Rachel Joy Piland said to her midwife, according to court testimony last week from Peter Scaccia, a Lansing Police detective.

Two days later, the baby girl named Abigail was dead.

Abigail died on February 9 from unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus, this is according to an autopsy that Dr. Patrick Hansma, a medical examiner at Sparrow Hospital here, conducted later.

Both of the conditions are related to jaundice, which is a common condition in newborns that can clear up on its own but needs a physician to monitor.

He said if treated, most likely she would’ve been alive,” Scaccia testified.

Piland, 30, as well as her husband, Joshua Barry Piland, 36, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. This charge carries up to 15 years of prison time.

The two were released from jail on September 21 after posting $75,000 bond and they reportedly did not answer their door to reporters on Wednesday evening.

Records indicate that the couple has requested that the court appoint lawyers for them.

The case likely will pit the Pilands’ apparent belief in divine healing and focus on the religious group they have been involved in, Faith Tech Ministries, against government officials who contend that parents are responsible for seeking medical care for their child.

Abigail was born at about 9:50 p.m. ET Feb. 6 at the Pilands’ Lansing home and a midwife, who previously helped deliver two of Rachel Piland’s children, expressed no concerns about the baby’s health when she and an assistant left around midnight.

However, the midwife’s assessment changed the following day when she saw Abigail’s jaundiced skin. She then advised Rachel Piland to take her infant to a pediatrician or emergency room, Scaccia said.

“Rachel declined to seek any medical treatment for Abigail, stating God makes no mistakes,” the detective said. “She indicated to the midwife that the baby was fine.”

The midwife scheduled a follow-up appointment for the next day, but Rachel Piland later canceled it.

On Feb. 8, Abigail was not eating properly and coughed up blood.

At one point Rachel Piland’s Mom, Rebecca Kerr, told her daughter that Abigail’s skin was not the right color.

Rachel told Rebecca about (the midwife’s) concern,” Scaccia said.

“And then Rachel went to listen to sermons.”

On Feb. 9, Abigail’s mother and grandmother saw blood coming out of the newborn’s nose, problems with her breathing and a lack of desire to eat but Rachel Piland would not allow her mother to call for help.

By 11 a.m., Abigail’s mother found the baby not breathing and lifeless in a bouncy seat.

Rachel Piland then took the body to her husband, who attempted one round of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and decided not to try cardio-pulmonary resuscitation because he did not know how to perform it on children, according to court records.

“They then brought Abigail upstairs to pray for her,” Scaccia said.

Joshua continued to massage Abigail, attempting to get her good air. Both Josh and (Rachel) reached out to friends and fellow church members to come to their home and pray for Abigail’s resurrection but never called the police.”

Authorities later learned of the infant’s death because Rachel Piland’s brother called them from California.

Image credit: Lansing (Mich.) Police Department)

When police arrived at the Pilands’ home, “went upstairs and found a baby that had passed away and three other people praying for it,” Scaccia said.

Joshua Piland had previously posted videos of missionary trips to Kenya with a Lansing-based Faith Tech Ministries, which describes itself online as nondenominational but similar to other “full gospel” or Pentecostal organizations. Its website says the Bible school has a strong message in the area of divine healing.

The couple is scheduled to appear on October 5 in Lansing’s 54A District Court.

Joshua Piland worked for the Michigan Economic Development Corp. from 2009 until this month, said Lynne Feldpausch, the public-private partnership’s executive vice president.

The woman would not say which day was Joshua Piland’s last nor why he left.

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