On Saturday September 24, 2005, The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page story on the death of my three year-old child, Eliza Jane Scovill, under the condemnatory headline, "A Mother's Denial, A Daughter's Death." My reply to the extensive article, is as yet unpublished. I am using this venue to share important facts overlooked in their article.
Under advisement from our attorneys, I can not say more on the subject at this time. We are still awaiting data missing from the autopsy report and for the results of a review by an independent pathologist. Please stand by for more information as it becomes available. I will speak, loudly, as soon as I am able.
Full text of Christine Maggiore's letter to Los Angeles Times
regarding their September 24 front-page story.
"A Mother's Denial," your article on the death of my daughter, Eliza Jane
Scovill, breezed past a number of crucial facts in its rush to publication
Medical records show my daughter did not exhibit symptoms consistent with
the coroner's determination of pneumonia, AIDS-related or otherwise. The
three pediatricians who examined Eliza Jane in the days before her death all
noted clear lungs. At a doctor visit on May 14, the day before she died, no
cough or respiratory congestion was evident. When my daughter collapsed at
home the next evening following her fourth dose of antibiotic, she did not
have the blue lips or fingertips suggestive of life-threatening pneumonia.
After being transported to a near-by hospital by ambulance, emergency room
doctors took a series of chest X-rays that revealed nothing to account for
her dire condition. All other tests run that terrible night left ER doctors
without an explanation for my daughter's death. For this reason, Eliza Jane
was brought to the Los Angeles County Coroner for an autopsy.
During an autopsy performed on May 18, my daughter's lungs were carefully
examined, weighed and measured. The coroner released her body to a mortuary
the following day having found no apparent cause of death.
Just before Eliza Jane's memorial service on May 29, my husband contacted
the coroner's office for an update on our daughter's case and spoke directly
with the medical examiner. She informed him they had yet to discover what
took our little girl's life, and having eliminated the common and obvious,
they would now go through a check-list that included investigation of such
unsettling possibilities as chemical toxins and poisons. That same week, a
curious friend phoned the coroner's office and asked if HIV tests were
routinely administered in cases of unexplained death. He was told that "the
symptoms of AIDS are so obvious" it's not necessary to run HIV tests on all
patients referred with no apparent cause.
On June 28, one of my daughter's pediatricians received a call from the
coroner's office demanding to know if he was aware of my book and HIV
status. Before hanging up, the doctor was threatened with a subpoena.
Despite the apparent new awareness of my HIV positivity and controversial
book, it still took three more months for the corner to decide upon a
diagnosis of AIDS-related pneumonia.
Given the circumstances, we have questions about the medical and
scientific basis for the coroner's conclusion. Did Eliza Jane get a
diagnosis by association or is there incontrovertible clinical evidence for
AIDS-related pneumonia? Did our daughter, unlike her father and brother,
actually test HIV positive? We won't know until the conclusion of an
independent investigation in three weeks. In the meantime, my family must
not only endure the pain and devastation of our horrendous loss, but the
world's speculation and scrutiny. We only hope that when all the facts are
in, the LA Times will rush to publish the rest of our story.