Karina Hansen

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Karina Hansen is a young Danish woman who was forcibly removed from her home to a Hammel Neurocenter in Denmark on February 12, 2013 because of her myalgic encephalomyelitis illness.[1][2]

A petition demanding her release attracted nearly 3,000 signatures.[3]

In 2015 a letter was signed by patients and sent to the Danish Prime Minister demanding her release.[4]

In Oct 2016, the Hansen family announced that Karina was now back home with her family.[5][6]

Background[edit | edit source]

Karina Hansen became ill as a teenager.

In 2008 while Karina Hansen was admitted to an arthritis hospital in Gråsten, she was tentatively diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis. Her parents were not informed of this diagnosis at this time [Citation needed]. Her treatment at this hospital likely involved graded exercise therapy (GET) which can be dangerous and worsen symptoms of ME[7][8], as GET is part of the standard treatment in Denmark.[9]

In 2009, the Danish Board of Health re-named ME 'Bodily Distress Syndrome' and re-classified it as a somatoform disorder. Two specialist clinics were designated to research BDS and treat patients.[9]

In 2009 Karina's parents were informed that Karina could suffer from ME which was confirmed by Chief Physician Valerius from Hvidovre Hospital. In May of 2010, Karina Hansen was again pressured into hospitalization despite her previous experience of worsening with a hospital stay. Her sensitivities to light and sound were not taken into account. Severe ME poses many difficulties to a traditional hospital environment. During this stay, doctors considered the possibility of detaining Karina Hansen under the Mental Health Act but they were unable to as (according to the Medical Officer, Børge Sommer) Karina was "not considered depressive or psychotic." Karina chose to leave the hospital after three days. At this time, she determined to never be hospitalized again based on these detrimental experiences. In 2010, eleven days after this hospitalization, Dr. Henry Isager (a Danish expert in ME) examined Miss Hansen and also diagnosed her with ME.

In 2011, Norwegian physician and ME expert Mette Sophie Johnsgaard examined Karina and agreed she has severe ME[10][11]. Karina Hansen has a well-established diagnosis of ME. She and her parents also had advice and treatment suggestions by ME experts that they chose to follow. Karina had had sufficiently negative experiences for her to choose not to undergo hospitalization or treatments such as GET again. In May of 2011, public health officers visited Karina and determined she gave informed consent for alternative or complementary therapy. She was deemed competent to choose her own treatment. The following was reported based on this visit (taken from Skjoldan's letter):

"Karina appears clear, alert and oriented. She seems immediately mentally inconspicuous. She is considered to be well informed about her situation and she agrees with the "alternative" or "complementary" way to cope with the illness. She's crying when she informs us that she would very much like to participate in rehabilitation, but that she cannot manage anything because of extreme fatigue, extreme fatigability and activity-induced pain. She hopes that maximum relief in the long term will allow for spontaneous improvement of the disease. She has thus given informed consent to the omission of conventional medical treatment in, favor of an "alternative" or "complementary" medical treatment."[10]

With the diagnosis of ME and Karina's mental competency confirmed multiple times, Karina and her family felt secure that they had taken all the necessary steps to keep Karina safe.

Institutionalization[edit | edit source]

An attempt was made to remove Karina from her home in 2012; after this incident, she arranged for her parents to have power of attorney, in case she was declared unfit.[9]

On February 12, 2013, Karina Hansen was removed from her home and taken to Hammel Neurocenter[1][2] She was 24 years old. Only months later her sister, a nurse, visited Karina and found her condition had deteriorated to the point that she could no longer speak.[9]

In October of 2014, Karina was moved to a nearby rehabilitation center for brain injury[12], where she was allowed limited contact with her family. Though she was physically clean and cared-for, she was in a wheelchair and unable to speak clearly. She did not recognize her father at all when he visited her in December of 2015.

Although Karina was already very ill when she was taken from her home, at that time she was still able to stand up occasionally and clearly communicate with others. Her current condition represents a frightening deterioration in her physical and mental health, whether from ME-induced neurological damage, severe overmedication, trauma as a result of her circumstances, or some combination of all three. Though there is no certainty regarding how Karina was treated at Hammel Neurocenter, the recommended treatment for ME in Denmark consists of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Graded Exercise Therapy (GET), occupational therapy and psychotropic medications.[9]

Court Case[edit | edit source]

On February 26 2016, the Danish High Court heard an appeal by Karina’s parents against the guardianship order imposed by the District Court. This order had confirmed Kaj Stendorf as Karina’s permanent legal guardian. Mr Stendorf was the chief of police (now retired) in charge of Karina’s district when she was taken from her home by police against her will.

The appeal failed and the District Court’s order was upheld.

As of April 2016, Danish High Court Attorney Cristina Poblador from Homann law firm in Copenhagen has agreed to take on Karina's case (paid by Save4Children). Her family remain hopeful she will be returned home.

Parliamentary hearings[edit | edit source]

Media coverage[edit | edit source]

The Danish media released the following articles on Karina and the Hansens' situation:

Community activism[edit | edit source]

There have been protests at the Hammel Neurocenter.

Every year, people send birthday cards.

A Danish group called Borgerretsbevaegelsen ("The Citizens' Rights Movement") is supporting Karina's case.[15]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

Talks & interviews[edit | edit source]

Online presence[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Karina Hansen", ME Global Chronicle: 6-21, 25 Oct 2015 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Karina Hansen is a severely ill Danish patient who was forcibly taken from her home", Voices from the Shadows (website), 9 May 2013 
  3. "Petition: Karina is a severely ill ME sufferer forcibly removed from her home", Change.Org, 2013 
  4. "Letter to the Danish Prime Minister for Karina Hansen", #MEAction, 27 Oct 2015 
  5. http://let-me.be/download.php?view.36
  6. http://let-me.be/news.php?item.22.1
  7. Twisk, Frank NM; Maes, Michael (2008), "A review on cognitive behavorial therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) in myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME)/chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS): CBT/GET is not only ineffective and not evidence-based, but also potentially harmful for many patients with ME/CFS.", Neuroendocrinology Letters, 30 (3): 284–299, PMID 19855350 
  8. "Our CBT, GET and Pacing Report calls for major changes to therapies offered for ME/CFS", ME Association (UK), 29 May 2015 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Eliot-Smith, Valerie (4 Apr 2016), "Karina Hansen 4: Timeline, Torture and Tragedy", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Skjoldans letter to §71 committee", Justice For Karina (website), 28 Jul 2014 
  11. Crowhurst, Greg (10 Nov 2015), Severe ME: Notes for Carers (book), lulu.com 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Our daughter was stolen two years ago: Help us, minister", Ekstra Bladet news (Denmark), 27 Feb 2015 
  13. "They took our daughter", DagBladet news (Denmark), 10 Aug 2013, They have not seen their adult daughter for almost six months after she was incarcerated in Hammel Neuro Center. Against her parents' wishes. Against her own desire. Not even the daughter's lawyer can get an explanation. 
  14. "Parents forbidden to see ill daughter: 'Mom, how do I get out of here?'", BT News (Denmark), 10 Aug 2013 
  15. Borgerretsbevaegelsen (The Citizen's Rights Movement, Denmark) (website) 
  16. Eliot-Smith, Valerie (7 Mar 2016), "Karina Hansen 3: Update March 2016", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog 
  17. Eliot-Smith, Valerie (15 Feb 2016), "Karina Hansen 2: the Ghost in the Room", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog 
  18. Eliot-Smith, Valerie (1 Jul 2014), "Karina Hansen - Prisoner of Denmark", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog 

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history