In 2015, nurse Beata Kowalski sprang into action when her daughter, Maya Kowalski, screamed in pain. That same year, Maya, then only ten years old, battled Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in the hospital. She suffered from curled feet, lesions, and weak legs. Despite Beata’s insistence on more ketamine, which had previously helped Maya, doctors labeled her “pushy.”

This unique yet poignant story caught Netflix’s attention, resulting in the production of the documentary Take Care of Maya in 2023. Following the documentary’s viral success, many questioned Maya’s current age. Today, Maya Kowalski is 17 years old.

How doctors became suspicious about the condition of Maya Kowalski

A still from the documentary Take Care of Maya (Image via Netflix)

Maya’s case took a grave turn when Dr. Sally Smith, who led the hospital’s child protection team, raised concerns about potential abuse within the family, linked to the use of ketamine treatment. Moreover, they suspected that Maya’s parents were either exaggerating or directly causing her medical issues, a behavior they identified as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

This suspicion led the hospital to take drastic legal measures, including removing Maya from her parents’ custody. Consequently, her parents faced stringent restrictions, being allowed to see Maya only under supervision. This scenario gave rise to an intricate and challenging legal and medical dispute focused on Maya’s well-being and her parents’ rights.

What happened to Maya Kowalski’s mom and father?

A still from the documentary Take Care of Maya (Image via Netflix)

In 2018, Maya Kowalski and her father, Jack, filed a lawsuit of over $200 million against All Children’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Florida Department of Child and Families, social worker Cathi Bedy, and Dr. Sally Smith, as well as her employer, Suncoast Center.

The Herald-Tribune states they are charged with medical malpractice, wrongful detention of Maya Kowalski, neglecting her pediatricians’ advice, overlooking signs of her mother’s impending breakdown, and denying Maya her rosary and prayer documents.

Furthermore, in September 2023, the court started picking the jury, and the trial lasted eight weeks. On November 9, the jury ruled against JHACH on all charges, granting the Kowalski family more than $211 million in damages. However, Beata Kowalski, Maya’s mother, died by suicide three months after the separation in the year 2017. In an email discovered after her death, Beata wrote:

The court held the hospital responsible for inflicting severe emotional distress on Beata Kowalski before her passing and for the wrongful confinement of Maya Kowalski.

Furthermore, the Kowalski family’s attorney, Greg Anderson posed allegations about the hospital’s actions. In a statement issued by Greg regarding the hospital, he said:

Where is Maya Kowalski now?

A still from the documentary Take Care of Maya (Image via Netflix)

Maya Kowalski now participates in Duke University’s Talent Identification Program for gifted youth. She continues to live with CRPS, and the courts have banned her family from pursuing ketamine treatment.

However, the scars of her trauma persist. As Maya revealed to PEOPLE, she still suffers from intense pain that makes her cry out. Despite the challenges, her determination to make the most of life remains strong after missing out on much. She has, however, managed to regain her ability to walk.

In conclusion, the story of Maya is a stark reminder of the complexities and potential consequences of medical diagnoses and parental advocacy. The Netflix documentary and subsequent trial have brought to light the tragic outcomes that can arise when medical professionals and families clash.

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Kay Adams