Judge: Cancer-Stricken Boy, 13, to Stay With Parents, Receive Chemo
NEW ULM, Minn. – A judge ruled Tuesday afternoon that 13-year-old Daniel Hauser's parents could have custody of their son as long as they agree to treat his cancer with chemotherapy.
Colleen and Anthony Hauser now say they understand their son needs chemotherapy. A doctor's exam showed the tumor, which is located in his chest, has grown and is pushing against his trachea, causing pain.
Brown County Family Services objected to the ruling, saying they wanted Daniel to stay in the county's custody.
Daniel and his mother, Colleen Hauser, prompted a nationwide search when they fled from their home nearly a week ago after a court-ordered medical exam showed Daniel's Hodgkin's lymphoma had worsened. The boy and his mom arrived back in Minnesota around 3 a.m. Monday on a private jet.
Philip Elbert, Daniel Hauser's attorney, says the teen told him he does not want to make any further statements to the media about his case.
"I will respect that decision by Daniel and make no further statements, other than this release, unless directed by Daniel Hauser," said Elbert in a press release.
Jennifer Keller, the California-based attorney who helped Daniel and his mother return to Minnesota, said on FOX and Friends Tuesday morning that she believes Colleen Hauser will cooperate with the court this time around.
“She would prefer to have some alternative treatments for Daniel that isn’t as hard on him – that he can tolerate better – and so she was planning to ask the court about that,” Keller said. “But she also made it clear that she will abide by whatever orders the court ultimately makes.”
Daniel, who has has been refusing treatment for his Hodgkin's lymphoma, was examined by a doctor upon returning to Minnesota. Daniel was allowed to spend the night at home, but County Attorney James Olson said a deputy was posted at the Hauser farm in Sleepy Eye.
Olson said that since Colleen Hauser returned to Minnesota voluntarily, he would likely dismiss a felony complaint against her and would not charge her with anything else.
FBI spokesman E.K. Wilson said a federal charge of unauthorized flight would also likely be dropped.
Keller said getting the arrest warrant lifted was instrumental in negotiating Daniel and Colleen Hauser's safe return.
“To me it was very important because we wanted to spare both her and Daniel the trauma of having her arrested,” she said. “Daniel has been through enough as it is and I didn’t think he needed to see his mother arrested. But, the law enforcement authorities were very, very helpful… and they made it clear from the start their only interest was Daniel’s safe return.”
Keller told the Associated Press she met the mother and son on Sunday, after another attorney told her the family wanted to return to Minnesota but didn't know what to do. Keller then notified authorities and arranged for the private jet. Keller said criticism pointed at Colleen Hauser is unfair.
"They always expected to return," Keller told the AP in a phone interview late Monday. "She's horrified people perceive her as hiding out. That isn't what she intended."
Keller said Daniel Hauser looked fine but was tired.
"He wasn't in any acute distress," Keller said. "He was quite tired. He was very, very eager to get home."
Daniel underwent a round of chemotherapy in February, but then he stopped the treatments, citing religious beliefs. The Hausers, who are Catholic, prefer the natural healing practices inspired by American Indians.
A judge last week ruled the parents medically neglected Daniel and ordered them to get him an updated chest X-ray as well as select an oncologist for a re-evaluation.
The FBI said Colleen Hauser and her son flew to Los Angeles. Investigators suspected they might have been heading to one of a number of alternative cancer clinics in northern Mexico.
Dr. Bruce Bostrom, the pediatric oncologist at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota who diagnosed Daniel's cancer in January, said he was happy to hear of the boy's return.
"I'm delighted," Bostrom said. "I've been so worried that he was going to die in Mexico. I've been praying for his safe return, so I think my prayers will be answered."
On Tuesday afternoon, Bostrom appeared on FOX News Channel's "Studio B" and said without looking at any recent X-rays, he believed Daniel's tumor to be about the size of a grapefruit or baseball. The tumor, which is located in Daniel's chest, could make breathing uncomfortable, he added.
Hodgkin's lymphoma has a 90 percent cure rate in children if treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Doctors said Daniel was likely to die without those treatments.
“I’m very happy they’re back and I hope Daniel has a fine and speedy recovery,” Keller added.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.