I've been featuring Betsie Gallardo, an HIV+ inmate in a Florida jail for the crime of spitting at an officer. She is dying of gall bladder cancer and the state had stopped her chemotherapy. After she developed a large tumor in her intestines the prison refused to provide IV nutrition.
I asked for a Christmas miracle for Betsie and Projectors sprang into action. Soon Florida legislators were involved and pleading for medical clemency for Betsie, change.org was running a petition drive asking for Betsie to be released to go home to die surrounded by family, and mainstream media picked up the story.
I started profiling Betsie's case after her mother, a transgender woman from Indiana, wrote and asked for help. Everyone worked together to make sure Betsie's mom could visit her in prison, then we moved up to begging for clemency and the parole board agreed to meet a month earlier to hear her case. After that we started demanding that the prison administration stop starving Betsie to death and late yesterday evening her mother wrote with some of the best news yet. Betsie has been transferred to a local hospital and is being given IV nutrition. She'll remain in the hospital until next week's parole board meeting on whether or not to grant her medical clemency.
Mom's update is after the jump.
The other day Betsie was transferred to Kendall Medical Center in Miami in order to finally start receiving TPN IV nutrition. She is incredibly thin and weak after almost four weeks with virtually no protein or other nutrients. That all said, she is trusting in God's will and has an amazing smile on her face at the thought of being out of the prison and the hopes of coming home.
I visited her yesterday and her face lit up when I walked into the room. Family visits are traditionally not allowed when an inmate is in the hospital and she wasn't sure she'd be able to see me again for a while. I'm happy to report that the prison authorities have assured me that I'll be able to visit her for two hours a day while she's in the hospital.
The next big step comes next week when we bring our case once again before the parole commission. This time I'll be there in person and I'll have a number of Florida lawmakers by my side as we petition for compassionate release for my child. If we succeed in bringing her home we'll need all the help we can get to re-establish her chemo (which the prison discontinued) and provide her with appropriate pain interventions. We already have some contacts established, but any help we can get would be greatly appreciated.
Keep up the pressure, my friends. As someone e-mailed me yesterday, "If I'm correct, January 7th is the Russian Orthodox Christmas, so with the parole commission meeting on January 5th, we will have our Christmas miracle."
Read All of Betsie Gallardo's story at The Bilerico Project: