A Texas mother has been arrested after taking her son to hospital 323 times in what the child’s father says is a case of Munchausen by proxy.
Kaylene Bowen’s son, who is now eight years old, underwent 13 unnecessary major surgeries, say police.
The boy was removed from the 34-year-old mother’s custody after Dallas hospital staff alerted authorities.
Munchausen by proxy is a syndrome in which a person repeatedly exaggerates medical symptoms to get attention.
Ms Bowen, who denies the charges, claimed her son had a rare genetic disorder and cancer and needed a lung transplant.
In his brief life, the boy – whom the BBC is not naming – has been placed on oxygen, given a wheelchair and a feeding tube, report local media.
He has suffered three life-threatening blood infections amid all the invasive medical treatment, according to a court affidavit cited by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
But medical staff have ultimately concluded there is nothing wrong with the child.
The child’s father, Ryan Crawford, told the Star-Telegram he had long suspected the mother.
“She was always saying Christopher was sick,” he told the newspaper. “Every single week. Every single month.”
Mr Crawford, who was in an on-off relationship with Ms Bowen before she became pregnant, told the newspaper how he mounted years of court battles for parental custody, while paying $600 (£450) a month in child maintenance.
According to him, Ms Bowen would tearfully tell judges: “The father doesn’t need to be around because he doesn’t know to take care of him.”
The mother is in Dallas County Jail charged with inflicting injury to a child.