In my opinion most people are dehydrated. Not chronically or dangerously so, but for most people there is a lack of proper hydration in which to keep the body running smoothly. Yet most of us will never know the severe effects of true dehydration – the life threatening kind. This story, which has made me cry, and get angry, is a tragic story demonstrating a pointless and terrible outcome from stunningly arrogant and calloused parents. Jonathan James should be alive today
In January 2013, a Dallas woman was convicted in the dehydration death of her 10 year-old stepson and sentenced to 85 years in prison. Tina Marie Alberson, 44, was convicted in the 2011 death of her stepson, Jonathan James who authorities said was denied water for days during a period of record-high temperatures in Texas. Jonathan’s biological father, Michael Ray James, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part. Alberson, who testified in her own defense, told jurors that she limited Jonathan’s water intake a few times as punishment for misbehaving, and that she saw him drinking water when he wasn’t in “time-out,” but claimed she saw no sign he was in any medical distress. Jonathan’s twin brother, Joseph, testified that Jonathan repeatedly asked for water and even pretended to use the bathroom so he could sneak water from the faucet. At first police thought Jonathan's death was heat related until the medical examiner’s report came out. Records showed that Jonathan had “severe elevated sodium levels in his blood, elevated potassium in his blood, liver dysfunction and severe acid build up...consistent with severe dehydration.” This is a slow and painful way to die.
According to Joseph his parents put Jonathan in a room without air conditioning and told him to stand by the window with the sun beating down on him. Joseph said that on the day Jonathan died he had peanut butter stuck in his throat but his parents wouldn’t let him wash it down. “They still wouldn’t let him have water,” Joseph said. “I couldn’t do nothing because I would get in trouble,” the young boy told authorities. Sue Shotwell, Jonathan’s grandmother questioned Alberson’s actions. “What person in their right mind deprives anyone of water?” She asked. It seems incomprehensible in this day and age that any adult would deny water to any child. But that’s exactly what happened.
“A child of his age would exhibit progressive symptoms of his dehydration, including complaining of thirst, progressively becoming lethargic, appearing dry (cracked lips, sunken eyes), mental status changes, decreased urine output and eventually shock/cardiac arrest,” court documents stated. “He was very active and he always had water with him,” Shotwell recalled of her grandson. Rescuers took Jonathan to Methodist Charlton Medical Center where Shotwell rushed to Jonathan’s bedside on July 25th, 2011, the night he died. It took the jury just over two hours to find Tina Marie Alberson guilty of reckless injury to a child, a second-degree felony. This is a stunning tragedy that should have been avoided. Something as simple as water cannot be understated in terms of its life-giving properties.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the signs of moderate dehydration:
--Dry, sticky mouth
--Sleepiness or tiredness--children are likely to be less active than usual
--Decreased urine output--no wet diapers for three hours for infants, and eight hours or more without urination for older children and teens
--Few or no tears when crying