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SACRAMENTO — You might think seeking a second opinion on whether an infant needs heart surgery is a prudent move. Or you might think the child is in such danger that leaving the hospital is irresponsible.
Parents Anna and Alex Nikolayev got a very clear answer from doctors at Sacramento's Sutter Memorial Hospital. Police and Child Protective Services workers showed up at their home and placed their baby into the care of Child Protective Services after they took five-month-old boy Sammy to Kaiser Permanente for a second opinion on his heart condition.
The situation started about two weeks ago when the Nikolayevs took Sammy to the hospital to be treated for flu symptoms. He stayed in he intensive care unit for about a week.
Sammy also has a heart murmur and has seen regular treatment for the ailment. Doctors at Sutter started talking about the need for immediate heart surgery to correct the issue, according to the Nikolayevs.
But they weren't happy with the care they got at Sutter and didn't trust doctors there. Anna Nikolayev said doctors and nurses made mistakes like giving her child antibiotics that a doctor later said her baby didn't need.
"I asked her, for what is that? And she's like, 'I don't know.' I'm like, 'You're working as a nurse, and you don't even know what to give to my baby for what,' " Anna told ABC News10.
The parents eventually took Sammy out of the hospital without being discharged and went to nearby Kaiser Permanente. Doctors there said the baby was deemed safe to return home with them, according to records.
But Sutter doctors disagreed. Police were sent first to Kaiser Permanente. They left after being showed paperwork indicating the child was safe, according to Anna Nikolayev.
The next day, however, police and CPS workers showed up at the Nikolayev home, forcibly entered and took the child, who was placed in protective custody at Sutter, where the child remained until Tuesday.
"It's absolutely amazing to me how a government can reach out and snatch a child after a doctor said there's not an issue," Joe Weinberger, attorney for the Nikolayevs, told ABC News10. "As we've seen, there is no emergency situation in this case ... I can't imagine having my baby ripped from my arms."
A judge ordered Monday that the child be moved to Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, a decision which the Nikolayev's consider a win.
"It's like a special day for us. It's like we're in a unit with our son again," Anna Nikolayev said. "We're just not going to let go anymore."
They were also ordered to follow all medical advice. After the child returns home, a social worker will be required to visit their home and check up on Sammy.