PHOENIX — An 11-year-old leukemia patient whose whereabouts have been unclear since her mother unexpectedly took her from a Phoenix hospital last month appeared to be safe and cared for, according to an interview broadcast Wednesday.
Phoenix police have been searching for Emily Bracamontes since surveillance video showed her with her mother walking out of Phoenix Children's Hospital on Nov. 28. Authorities said she could have died from an infection because she had a tube known as a catheter inserted into her heart to provide medication.
The mother, Norma Bracamontes, appeared with her daughter Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" and blamed the hospital for complications that led to her daughter's right arm being amputated. The family and Emily were being intimidated by the hospital over bills, she said.
"Emily, you're not going to go home because your mom and dad, they haven't filled (out) all the forms, so blame them that you're going to remain here stuck in the hospital," Norma Bracamontes said hospital officials told her daughter.
Phoenix Children's Hospital released a statement Wednesday, saying privacy laws prevent officials from disclosing patients' financial information or details regarding treatment.
"However, we steadfastly disagree with the assertions brought forth regarding the quality of care Emily received and will vigorously defend our actions regarding her treatment," the statement read.
Emily underwent about a month of chemotherapy and had been treated for an infection that led doctors to amputate her arm, police said. Her mother unhooked the tubing from an IV and left with the girl, leaving her susceptible to further infection. The girl left with her mother a day before she was set to be released.
Emily appeared in the interview Wednesday in what appeared to be a medical facility that was not identified.
"I am here, and it kind of feels good because the doctors really love me so much," said a bright-eyed and smiling Emily, who wore a pink, knitted cap.
Emily's father, Luis Bracamontes, said last week in an interview with NBC News that his daughter was safe and being treated by doctors in Mexico.
Hospital spokeswoman Debra Stevens said clinical decisions are never based on ability to pay and Phoenix Children's provides services either free or at reduced rates to patients who can't pay. The hospital told ABC it follows accepted treatment protocols to prevent infection.
"Emily's health and well-being continues to be our primary concern," Stevens said in an email to The Associated Press. "Children with her condition require ongoing treatment and monitoring, so we invite her current physician to contact Emily's Phoenix Children's pediatric oncologist to ensure continuity of care. This is customary when a patient seeks a second opinion or moves from inpatient to outpatient care."
Phoenix police didn't immediately respond to inquiries about the status of their investigation Wednesday.