Toddler Dies After Anti-Vaxx Parents Treat His Meningitis With Home Remedies

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

19-month-old dies when parents wait too long to get actual medical attention for his meningitis

A 19-month-old boy is dead because his parents refused to get actual medical attention for his meningitis. Instead, the couple — who own a nutritional supplement company — treated the boy with a variety of home remedies, even after a nurse friend told them he was exhibiting signs of meningitis.

CBC News reports David and Collet Stephan of Alberta, Canada pled not guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for their 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the boy had been ill for a couple of weeks, but his parents only called an ambulance when he stopped breathing. Prosecutors allege the couple treated the boy with herbal remedies and laid down next to him in bed. When they finally called for help the boy was airlifted to a hospital in Calgary, but taken off life support five days later. Doctors say the cause of death was meningitis.

News reports claim the various remedies the couple was dispensing included “water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries and finally a mixture of apple cider vinegar, horse radish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root.” Prosecutors also claim the couple tried to treat their son with a multivitamin they sell, Empower Plus. The court heard the couple on tape explaining to a police officer that they “prefer naturopathic remedies because of their family’s negative experiences with the medical system.”

Prosecutors told the court the couple “loved their son and are not accused of ignoring or killing him.” But, they added “they should have sought medical help sooner.”

The couple has taken to social media to solicit donations for their costly legal battle. David Stephan has posted several rants saying news reports alleging they gave their child herbal remedies are untrue — sort of. He denies giving his son maple syrup because it would “serve to feed viruses and bacteria and actually do the opposite of boosting the immune system.” He also says he never attempt to treat his son with a multivitamin, asking “Why would we try to treat Ezekiel for an infectious disease with a multi-vitamin that assists with brain function?” Whatever. These details are so unimportant. The only important detail is that the couple refused to medically treat their child — and instead used homeopathic remedies. The details of what types of fucking herbs they used to treat their child are neither here nor there. These people are not doctors.

They also use their Facebook page to post lengthy conspiracy-based rants about how the government is using the media to tarnish their name because “they attempted to shut my father’s company down in the early 2000’s but lost in the courts.” There’s no current court battle so that makes zero sense.

These parents lost a child and that is horrible. But he’d be alive today if they vaccinated him against the disease or sought medical attention when he exhibited signs of it. There’s a 90% survival rate for bacterial meningitis if caught and treated fast enough.

This tragedy was preventable. It was also treatable. The couple basically sat by and watched their child die. No parent should endure the horror of losing a child — but someone needs to be held responsible.

This article was originally published on