NEW ALBANY — A New Albany couple has been charged with class B felony neglect of a dependent for allegedly denying their diabetic daughter insulin.
The girl’s father, Steve Wilburn, and her stepmother, Shelly Wilburn, were arrested Thursday and remain in the Floyd County Jail on $75,000 court cash or surety bond in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1.
According to court records, their 14-year-old daughter had been hospitalized four times since 2007 with diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that develops when there is too little insulin in the body causing the body to burn fat for energy, creating dangerously high levels of ketones.
According to the American Diabetes Association, ketoacidosis can lead to diabetic coma or even death.
The girl was diagnosed in 2002 at age 7 with type 1 diabetes.
“The parents were not giving their daughter the insulin she needed because of her diabetes. They had extensive training on how to do it and had prescriptions for it,” New Albany Police Department Detective Paul Haub said.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Steve Wilburn was provided with education through various resources offered to him from August 2003 through May 2010. Haub said the Department of Child Services had worked with the family for years making sure they were properly educated in treating the disease.
In January 2007, the girl was admitted to Kosair Children’s Hospital for lack of appropriate insulin administration, according to court records. She was admitted again in February 2009 and then later that year in September. At that time, the Department of Child Services intervened and placed the girl in state custody.
She was placed with the Wilburns on a trial home visit on June 3. She was supplied enough insulin to last 13 days, or until June 17, but her prescription for insulin was not filled until June 21. It was not filled again until after she was admitted to the hospital.
She was admitted to Floyd Memorial Hospital on July 28, and due to the seriousness of her condition, she was transported to the pediatric intensive care unit at Kosair.
Dr. Andrea Taroli of the University of Louisville Division of Forensic Medicine for the Department of Pediatrics described the girl’s level of acidosis during her July hospitalization as “profound, affecting level of consciousness and putting (the victim) at significant risk of brain swelling, coma and death.”
“The most disturbing aspect of this case is the delay in seeking medical care in July — for a period of about 12 hours the child progressed to an obtunded state,” according to Taroli’s report.
A report sent to Child Protective Services alleged the “medical records consistently and clearly document a repeated pattern of neglect of medical care on the part of (the Wilburns) over the past eight years.”
Haub said it is rare for them to charge anyone with neglect at the class B felony level, the highest allowed under Indiana law for that offense.
“Without her getting her insulin, she went into diabetic ketoacidosis, so it was very serious,” Haub said.
The Wilburns face six to 20 years in prison if convicted. They are scheduled to go to trial Jan. 24. The public defender’s office was appointed to the case, but so far, no public defender has been assigned to represent them.
A no contact order was issued against the Wilburns on behalf of the daughter.