What Happened to Beata Kowalski? A Look at the 'Take Care of Maya' Subject's Life

As the Netflix documentary 'Take Care of Maya' documents, what happened to Beata Kowalski was the culmination of a long and fairly tragic story.


Jun. 20 2023, Published 12:11 p.m. ET

The Netflix documentary Take Care of Maya tells the story of Maya Kowalski, a young woman who was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome at the age of 9 in 2015, and her mother Beata. The story takes a decisively tragic turn, but that's part what has so many viewers so invested.

Now, many people want to know what happened to Maya's mother, Beata, and why the family and everyone who has seen the documentary is so outraged about it.

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What happened to Beata Kowalski?

Beata, a Polish immigrant who had worked her way through nursing school after arriving in the U.S., was a huge part of her daughter's care following her diagnosis. Maya was diagnosed with a daily dose of ketamine to treat her symptoms, which included pain in several parts of her body as well as asthma. Maya suffered a relapse of symptoms in 2016 which included severe stomach pain, and was taken to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital for treatment.

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Once there, doctors were apparently alarmed by the level of ketamine in Maya's system, and even referred to her as "ketamine girl" in text messages.

Doctors wanted to stop the treatment, and when Beata insisted they continue, doctors began to get suspicious. That, coupled with Beata's seemingly pushy manner, led doctors to bring in a social worker who eventually said that Beata had "mental issues."

Sally Smith, a pediatrician brought in to evaluate this case, diagnosed Beata with Munchausen by proxy, suggesting that she had intentionally been making Maya sick. Maya was taken into state custody, and was allowed almost no contact with her parents.

Just three months after Beata was accused of making her daughter sick intentionally, she died by suicide in her garage in January of 2017.

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The Kowalskis have filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

Following Beata's death, which came just days after a judge ruled that the separation from her daughter should continue, the Kowalskis followed a lawsuit against All Children's. The lawsuit alleges that false allegations of abuse ultimately prompted Beata's death. Following an appeal from the hospital, the lawsuit has been delayed until September 2023 after a 2019 filing.

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In spite of Beata's death, her voice is woven through Take Care of Maya, and we hear her desperation to find care for her child in phone calls and other recorded conversations.

The people behind the documentary said that this is a nationwide problem, and they've heard from other people who experienced something similar to what Beata went through.

This is "a nationwide pattern, where families are accused of child abuse and [are] preaching their innocence,” director Henry Roosevelt told Vanity Fair.

After Beata's death, Maya was allowed to return home to her father. Although the case is not yet decided, the producers still wanted to share their story.

“At a certain point, you have to stop filming,” producer Caroline Keating says. “But this is their truth, that the trial hasn't happened yet. And we think that's important to show that they are still fighting.”

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