Karina Hansen

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

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 (ME) 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 October 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 an adult 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' (BDS) 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] Per Fink was one of two doctors overseeing her "treatment".[12]

In October of 2014, Karina was moved to a nearby rehabilitation center for brain injury,[13] 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 over-medication, 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.[citation needed]

The appeal failed and the District Court’s order was upheld.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

Karina returned home October of 2016 and October of 2018 she was completely free from state guardianship.

Return home[edit | edit source]

In February 2016, Karina was moved to a rehabilitation center. At that time Valerie Eliot Smith documents that she was strapped into a wheelchair, unable to speak, and appeared not to recognize her own father when he visited.[14]

In October 2016 Karina's ability to communicate with gestures was reported to be increasing, her mobility was improving and her parents had been able to visit on a regular basis during the preceding weeks.

On 17 October 2017 Karina was finally able to return home to her parents - first on a trial basis, and then permanently[14]

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.[17]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

Talks and interviews[edit | edit source]

Online presence[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Unrest Karina's Danish High Court case and return home were featured in this documentary film

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Karina Hansen", ME Global Chronicle: 6–21, October 25, 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), May 9, 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, October 27, 2015
  5. Chronicle, ME Global. "The ME Global Chronicle 20161020 - Karina Hansen / Newsletters / Downloads - The ME Global Chronicle". let-me.be. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  6. Chronicle, ME Global. "ME Global Chronicle #019a - The ME Global Chronicle". let-me.be. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  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), May 29, 2015
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Eliot-Smith, Valerie (April 4, 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), July 28, 2014
  11. Crowhurst, Greg (November 10, 2015), Severe ME: Notes for Carers (book), lulu.com
  12. Spotlia, Jennie (October 12, 2018). "Protesting Per Fink". Occupy M.E. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Our daughter was stolen two years ago: Help us, minister", Ekstra Bladet news (Denmark), February 27, 2015
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Karina Hansen 8: The Aftermath Continues". valerieeliotsmith. June 25, 2018. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  15. "They took our daughter", DagBladet news (Denmark), August 10, 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.
  16. "Parents forbidden to see ill daughter: 'Mom, how do I get out of here?'", BT News (Denmark), August 10, 2013
  17. Borgerretsbevaegelsen (The Citizen's Rights Movement, Denmark) (website)
  18. Verrillo, Erica (July 18, 2013). "Onward Through the Fog: RELEASE KARINA HANSEN". Onward Through the Fog. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  19. "Something rotten in the state of Denmark: Karina Hansen's story". dx revision watch. May 11, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  20. Eliot-Smith, Valerie (July 1, 2014), "Karina Hansen - Prisoner of Denmark", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog
  21. J4KH (February 6, 2014). "A Year Later - Karina Hansen Still Confined in Mental Ward". CFS Treatment Guide. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  22. Schweitzer, Mary (October 18, 2015). "Slightly Alive: Justice for Karina Hansen". Slightly Alive. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  23. Save4Children (August 26, 2015). "Hope for Karina Hansen With Help From Save4Children". prohealth.com.
  24. "3 Ways to Help Karina Hansen - ME Hostage in Denmark". MEadvocacy.org. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  25. Eliot-Smith, Valerie (March 7, 2016), "Karina Hansen 3: Update March 2016", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog
  26. Eliot-Smith, Valerie (February 15, 2016), "Karina Hansen 2: the Ghost in the Room", Valerie Eliot-Smith Blog