SACRAMENTO, CA - Baby Sammy Nikolayev's parents said their son is on the path to recovery.
Sammy headed to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford on Wednesday. Alex and Anna Nikolayev said their son is gaining weight, and doctors plan to wait as many as six weeks before heart surgery.
Sacramento police officers and Child Protective Services took Sammy into protective custody last week after his parents removed their son from Sutter Memorial to get a second opinion. A judge returned custody to the parents Monday, but he had remained at Sutter Hospital until Wednesday.
"He was so excited driving the road down. He was not crying. He had his bottle, and when we arrived up there, all those nurses were smiling at him. He was smiling, and he was welcomed there," Anna Nikolayev said.
Anna said she hopes to be able to bring Sammy home while they wait for surgery. For now, the parents are staying close to Stanford, but the couple made a brief trip back to Sacramento Thursday morning to meet with the lawmaker calling for an audit of CPS after the incident with Sammy.
Anna and Alex sat down with Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, in his office Thursday morning. They said that's because now that Sammy's care is on the right track, they want to keep the pressure on CPS to answer for what happened to them and what they're hearing from other parents.
"I have seen a girl that was basically on her knees, screaming at the top of her lungs because she lost three of her kids, and it hurts to see parents like that, and that's why we want to get to the bottom of this," Alex Nikolayev said.
Donnelly said since looking into the Nikolayev case, he's also heard from many parents with similar complaints against CPS. He hopes to investigate each case as he did when he first heard about Anna and Alex and started contacting officials at both Sutter Memorial and CPS.
"The first question I asked them is, 'Are these parents abusive? Do you suspect that they are guilty of neglect or something along those lines,' and they said, 'Absolutely not; 99.9% these are just normal parents,' and I said then, "What the Hell are you doing?'" Donnelly said.
"They should have done the reports. They should have done all those researches before they would walk in our home, and took our son from our hands," Anna said.
The Department of Health and Human Services that oversees CPS declined Donnelly's request for more information. Now, the legislator, who sits on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, plans to take a closer look at the agency he says has raised deep suspicions.
MORE: Read Donnelly's letter to members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee requesting an audit of CPS policies
"Do they target immigrants who they think won't fight back, won't speak out because they're afraid of the authorities, where they come from a country where that knock on the door led to people disappearing?" Donnelly said.
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee will hold a hearing June 5. Donnelly said he plans to use the time in the interim to vet each of the cases that have been brought to his attention, but he said he's already convinced some of the stories he's hearing are true.
Menawhile, Sutter Memorial Hospital released a new written statement about the case Thursday:
At Sutter Memorial Hospital, children with cardiac disease receive care under the direction of board-certified physicians who bring decades of combined experience in the pediatric subspecialties of intensive care, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery. We are confident our staff meets and exceeds all applicable standards of care in the management of these fragile patients.
Sutter pediatric doctors and staff routinely coordinate and encourage second opinions from appropriate facilities and physicians. We do not deny a patient or family request for a second opinion.
Our nurses and physicians are bound by law to call Child Protective Services if they believe a pediatric patient's health is in danger.
We understand the stress and anguish parents go through when their child is in the hospital, and our thoughts go out to this family as they deal with their baby's health and medical needs. Our No. 1 concern has always been the health and safety of this child, and we want him to receive the care he needs to live a long and healthy life.