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Karina Hansen: Update and Urgent Appeal

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Editor’s Note: Karina Hansen, a Danish patient with severe ME/CFS,  was removed from her home and placed in a psychiatric institution over three years ago. Her family has been trying to get her back ever since, and has incurred crippling legal expenses in the process. In addition, there are now other matters needing urgent attention which can only be resolved with high-quality legal representation.  

Please help Karina’s family! You can donate HERE.



Reprinted with the kind permission of Valerie Eliot Smith

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with Karina’s horrifying story (as detailed in my series of posts) and with the often appalling treatment of ME patients generally.

For new readers, and those needing a reminder, there is a full summary at the end of this post.

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The current situation (December 2016)

On 17 October 2016, after three and a half years of involuntary detention as a de facto psychiatric patient in a Danish clinic, Karina Hansen (pictured above left from her schooldays) finally returned to her family home from which she had been forcibly removed in February 2013.

Karina is very happy to be back at home. She and her family are gradually adjusting to their changed circumstances and trying to process everything that has happened to them. However, it is inevitable that the traumatic events of last few years have taken an enormous toll on all of them. Her long-term situation remains to be determined; she and her family are still living with great uncertainty about the future as a result of excessive state intervention in their lives (see previous post).

In my post of 26 October 2016, I mentioned that psychiatrist Per Fink (see below) and the clinic where Karina had been incarcerated since 2013 had been contacted for comment about her return home. As of today, no reply has been received.

Thank you to everyone who sent birthday gifts

It was Karina’s 28th birthday on 7 November, a few weeks after her return home. She received cards, flowers and other gifts from all over the world. (Image courtesy Hansen family)

Karina was able to read all the cards. She and her family wish to express their gratitude and appreciation to everyone who took the trouble to send a card and/or a gift. They are unable to reply to everyone individually but want to make it clear that the support which they have received means an enormous amount to them.

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APPEAL FOR DONATIONS TO THE LEGAL FUND 

There have been considerable ongoing legal costs relating to Karina’s circumstances over the last few years. A large amount of those costs are still outstanding and there are new ones now beginning to accrue in relation to  prospective legal action. There are many issues still to be resolved regarding her future and that of her family.

The fund currently stands at approximately 4000 euros. Using exchange rates calculated on 4 December 2016 (amounts are rounded up), this equals:

  • 4300 US dollars or
  • 3400 British pounds or
  • 30000 Danish kroner

As yet, there is insufficient information to be able to set out exactly how much will be required to settle the outstanding debts nor how much any future legal action will cost. However, the specialist legal advice and assistance necessary here is extremely costly. It is very clear that the costs will far exceed the amount which is currently in the fund.

The fund is a vital resource – and Karina’s family are extremely grateful to those who have already donated – but it is a tiny fraction of what is required.

Any amount – however small or large – which readers of this blog can contribute will be received with enormous gratitude. The donations to this fund are exclusively for use towards paying the legal expenses relating to Karina’s treatment by the state over recent years.

LINK FOR DONATIONS: Go to this link at Save4Children and follow the instructions. If you scroll down the page there are links for specific countries/languages. If you experience any difficulty with making a donation, you can contact the website directly for assistance by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and following the link there.

Thank you.

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Karina’s story 

Karina lives in Denmark. In 2008, she was diagnosed with severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).

[ME is a complex, multi-systemic neuro-immune disease; its controversial nature continues to cause immense patient suffering and distress. ME receives universally derisory state funding for desperately-needed biomedical research/treatment, despite having been accurately identified and described in the 1950’s and recognised as a neurological condition by the World Health Organization since 1969.]

ME patients in many countries are still routinely referred to psychiatrists who use the inappropriate, and sometimes dangerous, psychosocial treatment model; patients are frequently unable to access medical treatment with a knowledgeable physician. There is still no recognized diagnostic pathway or treatment for ME – and definitely no cure, despite the claims made by some.

Inevitably, Karina’s diagnosis became the subject of a prolonged dispute. Her family continued to care for her at home, in accordance with her express wishes. However, in February 2013, then aged 24, she was forcibly removed from her home by a large team of police, doctors and social workers. She was taken to Hammel Neurocenter, against both her own will and that of her family. Hammel is part of “The Research Clinic for Functional Disorders” at Aarhus University Hospital.

Several doctors have been involved in Karina’s case but psychiatrists Nils Balle Christensen and Per Fink were in charge of her treatment at Hammel. Shortly after her initial detention, she was classed as a “voluntary” patient, despite having been taken there against her will; she was found by a court subsequently to lack capacity to make her own decisions. As a result of that finding, the court appointed a legal guardian to take responsibility for her welfare and make decisions on her behalf. Her condition deteriorated rapidly after her admission to the Clinic.

Three years on, in February 2016, Karina remained a de facto prisoner of the state. She had been moved to a nearby rehabilitation center but allowed very little contact with her family. Her father was permitted to visit her in December 2015. Whilst she was physically clean and cared-for, she was apparently immobilized, in a wheelchair and unable to speak except for incomprehensible mumbling and grimaces. At that time, she did not appear to recognize her own father.

During the course of 2016, I wrote a series of articles chronicling and analyzing Karina’s story from my perspective as a lawyer, a journalist and a long-time ME patient. On 12 October, I wrote a short update detailing the changes which were beginning to come about in Karina’s condition. Although she still could not speak, her ability to communicate with gestures was increasing, her mobility was improving and her parents had been able to visit on a regular basis during the preceding weeks.

On Monday 17 October 2016, after three and a half years of incarceration, Karina was able to return home to her family. The arrangement was on a trial basis but in the hope and expectation that she would be finally and permanently back where she belongs. The trial period passed without incident; Karina was home at last – but with a future changed forever.

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