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Missing Ariz. girl with leukemia could die if not found

Surveillance video captured an 11-year-old leukemia patient and her mother, after the 35-year-old woman ripped an IV from a catheter placed in her daughter's heart and walked the girl out of a Phoenix hospital.
Phoenix Children's Hospital/KPHO

PHOENIX Authorities in Arizona say a young girl with leukemia and a heart catheter could die if she is not brought back to a Phoenix hospital after her parents inexplicably removed her from the facility last week.

Phoenix police are asking anyone with information to come forward with any information about the patient, who is being called Emily, and her parents, who are being called Norma and Luis. Health privacy laws prevent them from releasing their names.

The 11-year-old girl had been receiving chemotherapy at Phoenix Children's Hospital for about a month, Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said.

Martos said an infection forced doctors to amputate her right arm and insert a heart catheter. The device was set to be taken out on Thursday. Her mother removed an IV from the girl, changed her clothes and walked her out of the hospital Wednesday night.

Surveillance video shows Emily, her mother and her brother getting into a 1998 Ford minivan, which is driven away by somebody else, CBS affiliate KPHO in Phoenix, Ariz. reports.

Martos said the family lives a "nomadic" life without a permanent residence, but they have relatives in Arizona, California and Mexico, none of whom have been able to provide police with information about their whereabouts. Authorities don't know why the child's parents took her from the hospital, but speculate they might have been concerned with paying the bill.

The girl's father is a Mexican citizen with a U.S. resident alien identification card. The child and her mother are U.S. citizens, Martos said.

While it is not against the law for a parent to remove their daughter or son from a hospital, it is breaking the law if the child needs medical attention for a life-threatening situation, KPHO said. Neither parent has been charged with a rime yet.

Martos says the catheter could cause a deadly heart infection if not removed properly or left in too long.

"We're talking about 11-year old girl who can't take care of herself," Martos said to KPHO.