Parents arrested for starving son

Like a starving child in a Third-World country.

That's how doctors described a 6-year-old Bridgeport, Montgomery County, boy, who was admitted to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in March as a "near-death fatality" due to severe malnutrition. He weighed just 29.5 pounds.

Now, the boy's parents, Victor and Olaifa Ramos, 48 and 37 respectively, stand accused of starving their son. They were arrested June 20 on charges of aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, endangering the welfare of children and and related offenses. They're free on bail and scheduled to appear in Montgomery County Court Thursday to be formally charged.

The abuse was first reported March 9, when the couple took the child to a pediatric cardiologist at the Alfred I. duPont Institute in Wilmington for treatment of his diagnosed Kawasaki disease, a heart ailment, according to an affidavit. The doctor quickly deduced the boy suffered from severe malnourishment, failure to thrive, an enlarged liver and muscle contractions that kept him from straightening his arms, according to the affidavit.

While the doctor urged them to get the child immediate medical care, they allegedly refused, saying they had an appointment scheduled with their family doctor the same day, court records show. The duPont doctor alerted the Pennsylvania ChildLine, a state-run abuse reporting hotline.

Five days later, the couple took the boy to the family doctor, who determined the boy's diet contained almost no protein, according to the affidavit. Further, the doctor found, the boy had a distended stomach, peeling skin and "miserable persona" and couldn't walk, court records show. He urged them to take him immediately to CHOP.

They did, and doctors there "reported that (the child) was one of the worst cases they had seen," according to the affidavit. His size suggested he was just 3 years old, and he showed multiple symptoms of severe malnutrition, records say.

"Both parents admitted to (an Office of Children and Youth caseworker) that they had exercised bad judgment and made a mistake in not seeking medical attention sooner for the son," the affidavit states.

The boy spent five weeks at CHOP and was released to his parents on April 25 with a "medical/safety plan," according to records. But on May 11, the parents brought the boy back to CHOP with a skin rash, records show. Staffers urged them to admit him, but the parents refused, the affidavit states. Another week passed, and the family returned to CHOP because the boy was suffering from prolonged diarrhea, records show.

Throughout, the family "battled the medical directives set forth by the physicians," such as not giving the boy the prescribed number of nutritional supplements, according to the affidavit. The boy also had not received any vaccines since he was 12 months old, doctors found.

CHOP discharged the boy back to his parents May 31 with a feeding tube. He is now in the custody of a family member, according to NBC-10, which first reported the case today.

Assistant District Attorney Samantha Cauffman, who is handling the case, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.