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Parents who took baby daughter from Lehigh Valley Hospital speak out

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: Oct 24 2012 04:17:14 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 24 2012 06:58:13 PM CDT
SALISBURY TWP., Pa. -

A baby girl is back at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and her parents are in hot water for taking her against the advice of doctors.

"We just want our daughter to live. We just love her so much," said April Saul.

Saul and Danny Rivera said all they wanted for their 3-month-old daughter was a second opinion from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, but they never made it.

Police stopped them at 7th and Hamilton streets in Allentown on Tuesday.

After more than 90 days of care, the couple decided to take their baby daughter out of Lehigh Valley Hospital's neonatal care unit.

Aralynn Rivera was born premature and suffers from a number of medical issues, including down syndrome and severe heart defects.

"I'm her mother, and I have the right to take her to whatever hospital I want," said Saul.

The hospital didn't agree and tried to persuade them not to leave and then called police.  Children and Youth Services took custody and the baby was taken back to Lehigh Valley Hopsital.

"We simply wanted our child to get the best medical care she could possibly get," said Saul, denying that she abducted the child.

In a statement, Lehigh Valley Health Network said: "The infant's parents left with her against medical advice and possibly jeopardizing her health."

The hospital said it discussed different care options with the family and other care providers on many occasions.  It was determined that the care being provided by LVHN was the appropriate care.

According to Pennsylvania law, parents who want to take a child out of a hospital must submit a formal request, but that request was never formally made.

Children and Youth Services were notified of the situation as well.  It said said it "will remove a child when the determination is made that the child is unsafe at home."

Saul and Rivera said they were just fed up with what they called a hospital run-around and wanted to do what they felt was in the best interest of their daughter.

"Had she been on oxygen, we never would have moved our child. We want to stress that," Saul said.

The couple haven't been charged, but they are desperate to see their daughter again. They have a hearing Thursday with Children and Youth Services.