Reporting Liz Collin
BROWNSDALE, Minn. (WCCO) – A Minnesota baby born with HIV is back in the custody of his parents. WCCO has been following the story of Baby Rico for the last week.
After Rico had been home from the hospital for barely a week, Mower County took custody of him. Court documents say doctors were worried after his family canceled two medical appointments.
On Friday, Mower County allowed him to go home from the hospital to the care of his parents.
The fight to keep the baby with his family still isn’t over. Even though he is almost three months old, little Rico is still settling into a new routine.
John Martinez, Rico’s father, says the situation has been an ordeal from the start.
“I understand some things aren’t fair but this hasn’t been right since it began,” Martinez said.
It is a custody fight that began right after Rico was born. After some initial resistance, his parents gave him the HIV medicine doctors pushed for – the same prescription that Rico’s mother, Lindsey Nagal, took herself for nearly two years as a child. She was diagnosed with HIV soon after being adopted from Romania by Steve and Cheryl Nagal.
Lindsey’s parents decided to take her off of the medicine after nearly two years because of severe side effects.
Steve Nagal, Rico’s grandfather, says they did not stop Rico’s drug treatment.
“The baby has always been on the medication,” Steve said.
Mower County stepped in after the Negals canceled two doctor’s visits to seek a second opinion out of state. But when Rico wouldn’t take a bottle because he’d been breastfed, his foster family was forced to take him to the hospital where he stayed for seven weeks.
“There’s a tube in his stomach. It’s not ok, especially if it didn’t have to be there,” Martinez said.
Since their story went viral people from around the world have offered their support. The ordeal has cost them more than $50,000.
As it stands, Lindsey Nagel has physical and legal custody of Rico, but Mower County is still monitoring his medical situation. His parents need to Skype with the county twice a day when they give Rico his medication and keep the county updated on his doctor’s appointments.
A judge will decide how involved Mower County will be in the future at their next hearing scheduled for April 1.
For now, the family is enjoying each new moment with Rico at home.
“This was the number one goal no matter what the outcome is,” Steve said. “Rico needs to be with his mom and dad.”