Gifted Amherst student loses application for treatment and transfer for autoimmune encephalitis being forcibly held in Bellevue hospital psychiatric

Derya, an accomplished Amherst student, was diagnosed with autoimmune encephalitis (AE) in the fall of 2014. With the help of psychiatrist Dr. Jenny Blanchard and immunologist Dr. Denis Bouboulis, as well as respected neurologist Dr. Rosario Triffeletti, Derya’s symptoms dramatically improved on immunomodulating medication. Soon thereafter, the Baldini family was able to secure a sought-after appointment with Dr. Souhel Najjar of New York University. After Derya’s AE diagnosis was confirmed by doctors Bouboulis and Triffeletti, the Baldini family was able to secure a sought-after appointment with famed neurologist, Dr. Souhel Najjar in an attempt to bring Derya to full recovery. Dr. Najjar was prominently portrayed in the New York Times bestseller, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” as in integral part of author, Susannah Cahalan’s diagnosis and recovery from autoimmune encephalitis.

AE is a life-threatening condition that causes inflammation of the brain and can lead to psychosis. Autoimmune encephalitis can cause a “wide range of neuro-psychiatric symptoms,” including cognitive impairment, agitation, and loss of inhibition, hallucinations, and paranoid thoughts. Lack of treatment for this condition can lead to long-term damage and in some cases, coma, or death. [Source: Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance]

Misdiagnosis of this complex condition is not uncommon. World-renowned researcher and neurologist Dr. Josep Dalmau discusses this very topic at length in his article, “Psychiatric Presentations of Autoimmune Encephalopathies,” published in “Psychiatric Times.” Dr. Dalmau says in his article that, “while a biological basis for numerous psychiatric illnesses has become increasingly appreciated few mechanistic hypotheses have gripped psychiatric researchers as strongly as an autoimmune basis for behavioral abnormalities […].” [Source: Psychiatric Times –]

Bellevue Hospital has ignored the four prior AE diagnoses, continuing to treat with damaging psychotropic medication, ignoring Derya’s brain swelling. The hospital has routinely asked the Mental Hygiene Court to forcibly medicate Derya against her will and keep her against her will since May 7th. They have declined all transfers to medically competent clinics such as Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown, and Duke Universities stating they would treat the AE even though they have admitted that they never in fact had a single case of AE.

The first substantial breakthrough in Derya’s story came on June 21st  when upon hearing significant testimony of the mere possibility of autoimmune encephalitis as an alternate diagnosis, Judge Jennifer Schecter ordered that Derya could not be forcibly medicated with psychotropic medications. Despite this recent court decision and acknowledgement of her AE diagnosis, on July 5th Judge Alexander Tisch approved Bellevue’s motion to extend her stay in forced psychiatric ward care by an additional six months ignoring the enormity of evidence substantiating a clear misdiagnosis. Giulia Miller, the family’s attorney, continues to represent the Baldini family in the ongoing court action. Ms. Miller was featured in the documentary, “My Kid is Not Crazy: A Search for Hope in the Face of Misdiagnosis”. [Source:]

Until further notice, updates can be found on the “Free Derya” Facebook page [] as well as the Twitter account setup on her behalf, @freederya []. Social media users are encouraged to use the hashtag #FreeDerya to help share her story.

Distributed by PREngine

Media Contact
Company Name: Free Derya
Contact Person: James Baldini
Phone: 862-266-7392
City: New York City
State: New York
Country: United States