A Lansing, Michigan, couple has been charged with manslaughter after refusing treatment for their newborn daughter who died from jaundice.
Rachel Joy Piland, 30, and her husband, 36-year-old Joshua Barry Piland, had Abigail Piland on February 6.
The baby was delivered via midwife at their home, one block east of the Lansing Country Club, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The mugshots for Rachel Piland and Joshua Piland. The two were charged with manslaughter after they refused treatment for their newborn daughter who had jaundice
At the time of her birth, Abigail appeared healthy and their were no concerns surrounding her well-being.
But when the midwife, who had helped deliver Rachel and Joshua’s two other kids, returned to the home the next day, she told the Rachel that Abigail appeared jaundiced, and encouraged Rachel to take her to the doctor.
What is infant jaundice?
Infant jaundice is a yellow discoloration in a newborn baby’s skin and eyes. Infant jaundice occurs because the baby’s blood contains an excess of bilirubin, a yellow-colored pigment of red blood cells.
Infant jaundice is a common condition, particularly in babies born before 38 weeks gestation (preterm babies) and some breast-fed babies.
Infant jaundice usually occurs because a baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream. In some cases, an underlying disease may cause jaundice.
Treatment of infant jaundice often isn’t necessary, and most cases that need treatment respond well to noninvasive therapy.
Although complications are rare, a high bilirubin level associated with severe infant jaundice or inadequately treated jaundice may cause brain damage.
Source: Mayo Clinic
‘She told Rachel the baby could suffer brain damage or die if not properly cared for,’ Lansing Police Detective Peter Scaccia said.
He continued to say that Rachel declined to seek any medical treatment for Abigail, stating ‘God makes no mistakes,’ and implied that the newborn was fine.
But the baby’s condition only worsened and on February 8, Abigail started to cough up blood.
And instead if taking the infant to the doctor, Rachel put her child ‘near a window wearing just a diaper utilizing a hair dryer to keep her warm,’ Detective Scaccia told the Lansing Journal.
At one point, Rachel told her mother, Rebecca Kerr, what the midwife said after Rebecca told her daughter that Abigail’s skin was not the right color.
Rachel proceeded to go listen to sermons.
On the morning of February 9, the Rebecca and Rachel noticed blood coming out of Abigail’s nose and that she wasn’t eating or breathing well.
Rebecca wanted to call for help but Rachel didn’t allow it and around 11am the same day, Rachel found her daughter dead in her bouncy seat, according to the Lansing Journal.
Rachel told her husband, Joshua who attempted one rescue breath.
Detective Scaccia said that Joshua did not want to perform CPR because he didn’t know how to perform it on children.
Joshua and Rachel Piland pictured above. After Rachel found her daughter dead, the two prayed for her instead of calling police
He continued: ‘They then brought Abigail upstairs to pray for her. Joshua continued to massage Abigail, attempting to get her good air. Both Josh and Rachel reached out to friends and fellow church members to come to their home and pray for Abigail’s resurrection, but never called the police.’
Officers learned of the child’s death after Rachel’s brother called from California and told them of Abigail’s death.
When police arrived they discovered the dead infant and people praying over her body.
The baby was delivered via midwife at their home, one block east of the Lansing Country Club on February 6. Abigail’s body was also found there by police
The autopsy later confirmed that Abigail died from unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia and kernicterus – conditions related to jaundice.
If treated, she would have more than likely survived the detective said.
Rachel and Joshua were each charged with a single count of involuntary manslaughter and released after posting $75,000 bond on September 21.
Their next hearing is scheduled for October 5 in Lansing’s District Court.
They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
The couple has two other children that were delivered by the same midwife. The midwife told Rachel that she should take the infant to the hospital but Rachel refused