An 11-year-old girl with a rare illness has been taken into care after her parents’ arrest in Catalunya for alleged fraud involving an appeal fund set up for her treatment in the USA.

Nadia suffers from tricothiodystrophy which, on paper, causes brittle hair due to a lack of sulphur, but in some cases leads to mental disability, short stature, and occasional epileptic fits and lack of coordination, as well as premature ageing which gives the appearance of an elderly person’s head on a child’s body.

The extent of her illness is not known, but she does not have short, broken hair or an aged face.

Her mother Marga Garau has been released with charges, but her father, Fernando Drake Blanco, has been remanded in custody as he is considered a flight risk, with evidence that he was preparing to flee to France with his family.

The court says Nadia’s parents ‘appear to lack the necessary aptitudes to care for her’, and that the ‘media circus’ surrounding her case ‘as a result of the alleged wide-scale fraud’ means ‘her urgent exit from her current environment is recommended’.

Nadia’s aunt on her mother’s side, who lives in Mallorca, is caring for the young girl and her parents are allowed to see her from Friday to Sunday every week as long as the aunt is present.

According to the judge, the little girl ‘may have reached the state of being a victim’ as she ‘could have suffered psychological and even physical harm’ if she did not ‘receive the appropriate treatment’.

Nadia’s father told the media he had managed to raise 150,000 euro for his daughter’s surgery in Texas through his Facebook appeal, but a report from the Mossos d’Esquadra – Catalunya’s answer to the Guardia Civil – says the family amassed 918,000 euro in donations and spent 600,000 euro on themselves.

The court claims they had ‘made charity donations their source of income’ by ‘taking advantage of the fact their daughter was not an adult’.

Marga Garau said she ‘knew nothing about’ money spent from or paid into the Nadia Nerea Association account, and that she was ‘not worried’ by Fernando having taken his daughter for treatment in Afghanistan, nor that he and Nadia had spent two weeks in Houston, Texas, returning with no medical papers or prescriptions.

She says she understands her husband did not tell her he was taking Nadia to see ‘homeopathic’ or ‘charlatan natural health’ practitioners, since he knew she did not agree with this course of action.

Sra Garau, 44, claims she never went to medical appointments or treatment sessions at home or abroad when Fernando took Nadia, since she ‘could not bear to see her suffering’ – although the judge points out that the youngster’s mother had been with Nadia in a hospital in Palma de Mallorca in September.

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