Netflix’s latest documentary Take Care of Maya has landed, and has proved to be a moving watch for audiences around the globe.


The film tells the story of the Kowalski family and their daughter Maya, who was eventually diagnosed with the rare pain disorder CPRS as a child – but not before tragedy struck for the family, who are still battling children’s healthcare providers in America.

As the synopsis for Take Care of Maya outlines: "As the medical team tried to understand her rare illness, they began to question the basic truths that bound the Kowalskis together. Suddenly, Maya was in state custody – despite two parents who were desperate to bring their daughter home.

"The story of the Kowalski family – as told in their own words – will change the way you look at children’s healthcare forever."

So, who is Maya, and what tragically happened to her mum, Beata? Read on to find out.

What happened to Maya Kowalski?

Maya Kowalski, Jack Kowalski, Beata Kowalski, and Kyle Kowalski in Take Care of Maya
Maya Kowalski, Jack Kowalski, Beata Kowalski and Kyle Kowalski in Take Care of Maya. Netflix

As explored in the Netflix film, when she was just nine years old, Maya Kowalski began suffering from headaches, asthma attacks, painful lesions on her arms and legs and severe cramping in her feet.

A year later in 2016, she was admitted to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in Florida with crippling stomach pain, which her father Jack recalls was “so severe, her knees were going up to her chest, and she was screaming”.

Now aged 16, Maya’s symptoms were later discovered to be linked to the rare neurological condition Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, known as CRPS - but not before her family faced a series of accusations.

Who was Beata Kowalski?

After Maya was hospitalised, doctors suspected that her mother Beata Kowalski had the psychological condition Munchausen syndrome by proxy - where the caregiver or parent will make up fake symptoms or cause real ones to make it look like the child is unwell.

While at the hospital, Beata - who was a nurse - instructed doctors to give her daughter a high dose of ketamine in order to reset her nervous system and treat her CRPS, as the treatment had previously worked at a practice in Mexico (as reported by The Cut).

But hospital staff grew suspicious and contacted child protective services, who removed Maya from the custody of her parents for three months until the court ordered a full psychological evaluation for Beata and had cleared her of any mental illness.

Tragically, Beata died by suicide 87 days after she had been separated from her daughter, and was found with a note which read: “I no longer can take the pain being away from Maya and being treated like a criminal. I cannot watch my daughter suffer in pain and keep getting worse.”

Just five days later, Maya was released into her father’s custody.

The family - including Maya's father Jack and her younger brother Kyle - have filed a lawsuit against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and the trial is expected to start in September 2023. Their attorney, Greg Anderson, has said they are able to do so thanks to Beata’s meticulous note-keeping of her daughter’s symptoms and treatments.

“The only reason that we are able to bring this case [to trial] where every other attempt [of a similar case] in history has failed is because Beata documented everything and read everything,” he told People. “Beata was a force of nature in taking care of her family. The depth of loss is beyond words.”

A Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital spokesperson told that it would not comment directly on Maya's case but said in a statement: “Our priority at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital is always the safety and privacy of our patients and their families. Therefore, we follow federal privacy laws that limit the amount of information we can release regarding any particular case.

“Our first responsibility is always to the child brought to us for care, and we are legally obligated to notify the Department of Children and Families (DCF) when we detect signs of possible abuse or neglect.

“It is DCF that investigates the situation and makes the ultimate decision about what course of action is in the best interest of the child.”

Take Care of Maya is available to stream on Netflix. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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