Take Care of Maya Documentary Review: What Happened to Maya?

Take care of MayaPic Source: Unsplash

Netflix has released a lot of great documentaries over the years. There’s something for everyone, from celebrities to serial killers,  true crime to historical events. However, there’s one documentary that struck the hearts of many people worldwide -Take Care of Maya. This 1 hour and 44-minute documentary follows the story of Maya Kowalski and her family as they navigate a complex medical condition and the devastating consequences of a misdiagnosis.

Also, just a PSA: right now, Take Care of Maya is exclusive to Netflix, which means you won’t be able to watch it on other streaming platforms like Disney+, HBO Max, and Sling TV. If you’re planning to watch this trending documentary, make sure to have an active Netflix subscription. For a better watching experience, it’s best to have high-speed home internet too!

Let’s talk about their heartbreaking story.

Maya Kowalski and Her Disease

Maya Kowalski was suffering from a rare neurological disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). This disease is characterized by severe and persistent pain that is often accompanied by changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling. CRPS is a debilitating condition that can make it difficult for people to perform everyday tasks and can even lead to permanent disability.

Maya was ten years old when she started experiencing the symptoms, mainly severe pain along with lethargy, breathing difficulty, chest congestion, lower limb dystonia, and more. Maya’s parents, Beata and Jack Kowalski took her to countless doctors, but no one could figure out what was wrong. However, after months of searching for answers, they finally found a doctor who believed he could help her. Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick, an anesthesiologist and CPRS expert, was able to diagnose Maya with CPRS.

Ketamine Treatment on CPRS 

Dr. Kirkpatrick knew well enough that ketamine could help Maya’s condition, so he recommended this treatment. They started the treatment with low doses. However, it doesn’t seem to help at all with the symptoms of her condition. Dr. Kirkpatrick then recommended a ketamine coma instead, which is a procedure that involves giving extremely high doses of ketamine that puts Maya into a five-day coma.

This treatment is only legal in Mexico, and of course, there were many risks associated with it. However, Maya’s parents knew that it was their only hope. They went to Mexico for the procedure, and it was a success. It alleviated Maya’s chronic pain and allowed her to live her life. They returned to the United States, where Maya still needed to get low doses of ketamine to prevent her symptoms from coming back.

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The Relapse

Maya and her family were able to live a good life a year after her ketamine coma procedure. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. Maya’s symptoms started to come back, and she was no longer responding to low doses of ketamine. Her parents were desperate to find a way to help her, but no one seemed to have any answers.

In October 2016, Maya’s parents took her to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida for a second opinion. The doctors at Johns Hopkins were skeptical of Maya’s diagnosis of CRPS and suspected that her mother was making her sick. They ordered a series of tests and scans, but none of them showed any evidence of physical illness.

The doctors at Johns Hopkins concluded that Maya’s symptoms were being caused by Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a form of child abuse in which a caregiver exaggerates or fabricates a child’s illness. They believed that Beata was making Maya sick for attention or sympathy.

Beata Kowalski’s Unconditional Love for Maya

Beata Kowalski was separated from Maya shortly after the diagnosis because she was accused of making her daughter sick. They were still able to talk to each other through phone calls, but Maya was stuck in John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital with Cathi Bedy, a social worker who charged her with child abuse.

Beata and Jack hired a lawyer in an attempt to get Maya into their custody again. But to no avail, they weren’t able to do so. Maya’s parents underwent a lot of court hearings. There was one dealbreaker that led to a tragedy, where Beata just wanted to hug Maya for a brief moment, but the judge still continued to side with the hospital.

Shortly after, Beata committed suicide on January 8, 2017, because she wasn’t able to bear the pain of being separated from Maya, seeing her in pain with them being treated as criminals when they only want what’s best for their kid. She left an email explaining why she did that. Then, a few days later, Jack was able to get Maya back to his custody.

The Kowalski Family Won the Lawsuit with $261 Million in 2023

This wasn’t shown in the film because the case was still ongoing at that time, but good news broke out this 2023 when they finally won the lawsuit against the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. This victory is a bittersweet one, as Beata is no longer alive to witness the vindication of her family’s name. However, her legacy lives on in Maya, who continues to advocate for others who have faced similar challenges and who carry the memory of her mother’s unwavering love within her heart.

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