Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Falsely Diagnosed as Malnutrition from Vegan Diet

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State of Utah dragging its feet in acknowledging error; not vindicating parents wrongfully accused. The child is in process of possibly being returned only but under conditions of close DCFS supervision and nutritional monitoring.

The mystery of one child's death, and another child's illness have recently been solved as a clear case of carbon monoxide poisoning. Meanwhile, the previous diagnosis of malnutrition by Vegan diet continues to prevail with the state of Utah and its Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

The exhaust vent in the Thaxton home is situated twelve inches away from the intake vent; and the evening breezes that come out of the canyon waft the exhaust into the intake. As the Thaxtons have replaced their windows and tightened the home over the past three years, they also have unwittingly turned their home into a carbon monoxide trap.

The adults and older children were not as effected as the infants, who do not get as much time outside to replenish their body with oxygen. Also, the little bodies of infants have a much higher metabolism than older children and adults.

Little Dan Thaxton Jr. died unexpectedly on Oct. 2, 2001. Matthew Thaxton was exposed in utero at that same period of time, and then began getting ill in the winter of 2001-2002 when the furnace season began again. During the many times he was taken to the hospital, he would recover; but each time he returned home, he became ill again.

It all makes so much sense now -- after the true cause has been identified; and after the state of Utah has already issued its verdict against the Thaxtons: neglect by vegan diet.

Thousands of children, including the Thaxton's two older children, live healthy lives on a vegan diet, abstaining from meat and dairy products.

Yet as the death of Dan Jr., and the other illnesses began to occur, and the cause was not yet identified, at least one person close to the Thaxton family decided that the illness was a clear result of the vegan diet, of which they did not approve; and began to put pressure on the state to intercede.

When Dan Jr. died unexpectedly, the first report by the medical examiner did not list anything as being out of the ordinary, except perhaps myocardia (a slightly enlarged heart).

But then a couple of months later, the medical examiner changed the report and listed "malnutrition" as the cause.

At a court hearing on the matter, the Thaxton's judge was going to dismiss the case saying there was not ample evidence to support the charges of physical neglect, medical neglect, and nutritional neglect (tantamount to negligent homicide). However, the DCFS asked for a lesser charge of "substantive neglect," and rather than fight that charge as well, the Thaxton's attorney advised them to accept it, which they did, thus having that entered on their record.

Matthew, who was born on May 22, 2002, began to grow very ill and began a series of hospitalizations beginning in January, 2003. The winter season had been relatively mild up until that time. The first diagnosis given was "pallor and low blood counts," followed by a diagnosis of Leukemia, followed by a diagnosis of a rare "Intrinsic Disease." By June he was given a hefty dose of Insulin and then fed and medicated through a tube in his neck because the doctors thought he might be Diabetic. In January and June 2003, Matthew underwent extensive blood tests, two blood transfusions, a bone marrow biopsy, a B12 shot in the leg.

The battery of tests did not include a simple carboxy hemoglobin test, which would have pinpointed the culprit.

Meanwhile, as low levels of B12 levels were assessed to be a driving cause, the vegan diet became the de facto culprit, and on June 9, 2003, Matthew was taken away from the Thaxtons by the state of Utah.

According to Thomas L. Rodgers, the best medical literature states that, "Carbon monoxide inhibits the uptake of B12, which likewise inhibits the assimilation of other essential nutrients." He also has documented that B12 can be obtained dietarily from a wide array of non-meat and dairy sources.

It was also Rodgers who identified the carbon monoxide poisoning as the smoking gun in this situation. After hearing the Thaxtons give a detailed account of what had transpired in their life, including the the improvements they had made on their home over the past three years, replacing the new windows, and of their mild headaches, he suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. Then upon visiting their home he immediately spotted the culprit. Rodgers was able to record video tape footage of the exhaust being pressed by the breeze against the house and into the intake vent.

His assessment was verified by professionals both in home heating as well as physiologists, who corroborated that the symptoms that all of them had been having, including Dan Jr. and Matthew, were wholly consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning.

Meanwhile, Utah's DCFS has gotten a strong toehold into the Thaxtons life, and the lawyers that the Thaxtons have been hiring (they've gone through three) seem beholden to the state agencies, who provide a primary source of their income as family practice attorneys. None of the lawyers the Thaxtons have approached are willing to take up the carbon monoxide poisoning matter as a cause for acquittal.

Those with an anti-vegetarian bias seem to have gotten the taste of blood, and they won't let off. A proposed "dispositional dependency" order issued on August 13, 2002 did not mention the return of Matthew, and calls for the "Parents to develop a written nutritional plan for all of their children, to include written menu planning and schedules with caloric and nutritional tracking, and … all necessary supplementation, be it multivitamin, B12 injections, or animal products."

It also brings the parent's mental stability into question by requiring that, "The parents will each obtain a psychological evaluation." It also requires that "the parents will commit to perpetually give their children a multivitamin which contains B12 and other essential nutrients which would not be provided by a vegan diet." The disposition concludes: "In the event that the parents fail to properly supplement their children's diets as memorialized in the final stipulated agreement, this will constitute grounds for removal of all the children as a significant risk to their health."

The parents cooperated, albeit reluctantly, with all orders of the court of which they were apprised, but say they were accused by DCFS of never cooperating. Subsequently, they were not invited to the early intervention therapy training for the child's swallowing disorder and motor dysfunction, including seizures, that had not become apparent until the child began being treated for diabetes -- a misdiagnosis. Their non invitation indicates that the DCFS is preparing the child for adoption by another family.

The Thaxton's local church authorities vouch for their stability as responsible members of the church and community. The mother, Carolee Thaxton, is the daughter of Clay Christiansen, organist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The Thaxtons have decided to go public with their plight, and seek to gain the understanding of the citizenry to help bring justice in the case, as well as to bring additional awareness about the subtlety of Carbon Monoxide poisoning, to both to parents as well as health care practitioners.

According to Dr. David Penny, Wayne State University, Michigan, thousands of babies die yearly from CO poisoning, but the cause is listed as unknown or is misdiagnosed as something else such as SIDS or even medical or nutritional neglect of parents.


A Petition has been created to "Return Matthew Thaxton to Parents and Restore Family to Whole," addressed to Utah's governor and DCFS and Primary Children's Medical Center.




Video footage of exhaust wafting into intake vent.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (and nutritional uptake, including B12) - Dr. David Penny, Wayne State University, Michigan.

Vitamin B12 -- source and uptake.

Images of the HVAC set-up at the Thaxton home:

Thomas Rodger's Coverage of the Thaxton Situation

Care proving to be more dangerous than homes from which children are being taken (LA Daily News; Dec. 10, 2003)


Thomas L. Rodgers
PO Box 304, Bountiful Utah 84011-0304

801-298-9095 (24/7 home or cell)


The above story is presented with images at
by Sterling D. Allan

Greater Things News Service

For more information, see Thomas Rodger's Coverage at

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