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Tuesday, May 02, 2000

Family wants apology from province after child injured
B.C. pays family $6.3M
Ian Bailey
National Post

Molly (Delarone)

VANCOUVER - The relatives of a severely disabled child who was left brain-damaged after being shaken by her foster mother plan to protest outside the British Columbia Legislature today seeking an apology from the provincial government.

Molly Delarone, now aged three, is blind and needs 24-hour care. She was in the care of a nurse provided by the Ministry of Children and Families when her foster mother shook her so hard she left her with permanent disabilities.

The planned protest comes after a B.C. Supreme Court justice awarded Molly's family $6.3-million to pay for the constant care she will need in a life expected to last only about 27 more years.

Cindy Engbrecht, Molly's guardian, said the money only covers part of the family's concern.

Ms. Engbrecht, a housewife, and her sister, Lisa Stolth, a caregiver at a longterm care facility, also want an apology.

"[The province] has dragged us through hell. It's not over until we hear them apologize. Then we can go home and have a big long cry," Ms. Engbrecht said.

"And if they don't want to apologize, we'll just keep coming back."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Children and Families said yesterday the ministry cannot apologize until such legal issues as whether to appeal are resolved.

Molly was born addicted to methadone. Her mother -- Mrs. Engbrecht's other sister -- was a drug addict. The girl ended up in the care of Kim Kierkegaard, a registered nurse who acted as the child's foster mother.

Kierkegaard grew frustrated at Molly's crying one day and shook the girl. She received a conditional sentence of two years less a day and 100 hours community service.

Molly lives with Mrs. Engbrecht and her husband at their Victoria home. The Engbrechts and other relatives have taken care of the other four children of Molly's mother.

Molly, who also has cerebral palsy, requires full-time attention from health care workers, who work eight-hour shifts.

"It's a constant battle," said Mrs. Engbrecht. "You have to constantly move her around to stop her from developing pneumonia and chest infection."

Molly takes her food through a tube into her stomach. She cannot walk. She has to wear diapers.

It is also a struggle to try to communicate with Molly, her relatives say.

Mrs. Engbrecht said Molly does have some connection to the world around her. "Hugs and kisses make her happy. Walks in the sun make her happy. Listening to birds? She loves birds. She likes music. She loves the smell of roses," she said.

She can say one word clearly -- good. "She uses it appropriately."

The government funds will be paid out in annual allotments. If Molly lives beyond 30, the ministry will keep paying.

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