A family has taken to social media saying they are being unfairly persecuted for treating their now deceased toddler’s meningitis with natural remedies.
Despite several weeks of symptoms and warnings from a trained nurse, Canadian parents David and Collet Stephan treated their son’s meningitis with natural remedies such as ginger root and maple syrup, and sought medical assistance only when he stopped breathing.
Upon calling emergency services, 19-month-old Ezekial was airlifted to Calgary. After five days on life support the toddler tragically lost his life, dying in March 2012.
The couple has pleaded not guilty to the charge of failing to provide the necessities of life for their child.
Despite showing symptoms such as lethargy and body stiffness, the Stephan’s informed police that due to negative experiences with the medical system they preferred natural remedies.
In an attempt to fight off the illness and boost Ezekial’s immune system, the couple – who own a natural supplements company – administered water and maple syrup, ginger root, olive leaf extract, whey powder, juice with frozen berries and a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, chili, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root to their son.
The couple also took their son to a nearby naturopath for treatment, but by that stage his body was so stiff he was unable to sit in his car seat and had to lie on a mattress in the back of the family’s car.
While there are multiple vaccines available to protect babies and children against meningitis, the anti-vaccination movement has seen more and more parents opting out of this protective measure in recent years.
If untreated, meningitis is almost always fatal, particularly in babies and small children such as Ezekial Stephan.
While the Stephans are not being accused of murdering their child, the Crown is arguing that they should have sought medical assistance sooner.
“I’m not saying they killed him, abused him or ignored him,” prosecutor Clatyon Giles told Global News. “They loved him. But they didn’t take him to a doctor until it was too late – far too late.”
This is not the first time the Stephans have appeared in court against the Canadian government.
In 2004, Health Canada launched a case against their nutritional supplements company Truehope Nutritional Support Inc., challenging the claims that their product Empowerplus could manage mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder.
The court has heard that the Stephans used Empowerplus on Ezekial while attempting to treat his meningitis.
The couple, who have three other sons, have created a donation website to assist with legal fees being incurred from the court case against them.
David Stephan also posted the message entitled ‘Will we ever be free?’ on the Prayers for Ezekial Facebook page earlier this week. Read the full message below: