Doyle Byrnes, a nursing student at Johnson County Community College since 2006, was recently dismissed from the program after she and three other students took photos with a placenta they were examining during a lab at Olathe Medical Center.
The anatomical, but incorrect, photo op took place November 10, 2010, under the watch of JCCC clinical instructor Amber Delphia. When the students told Delphia that they wanted to take pictures with the placenta and share them via social networking sites, the instructor merely responded, "Oh, you girls," according to a court petition filed by Byrnes.
That evening, Delphia called Byrnes and told her to take the placenta photo off Facebook immediately, which Byrnes did. "Am I in trouble?" Byrnes asked the instructor. "No," Delphia allegedly responded.
But on November 11, director of nursing Jeanne Walsh "convened a meeting with the students who had posted photographs of the placenta on Facebook, where she verbally berated the students by screaming and crying at them," according to court documents. The students were then "summarily dismissed."
December 23 against the JCCC, Delphia, Walsh and the dean of JCCC's Health and Wellness Program for breach of contract, claiming that she
was denied a formal hearing with regard to the disciplinary action as
set forth by JCCC policy.
A month prior to filing suit, Byrnes wrote an apologetic letter to director Walsh. She told the director that she'd deleted her Facebook account ("...I cannot afford a tool that tempts me to remove any deeper thought behind my actions"). She went on to explain the academic exhilaration that had prompted Placenta Photo Day.
"We were taken aback by the miraculous service this organ had provided,
and admired in awe its perfect, yet simple design to function as the
life support for a presently recent addition to the human existence." Byrnes wrote. "Our joy in the marvels of pregnancy and the creation of life was unparalleled by any other experience we have had in nursing school thus far. For me it was a moment that confirmed all of my wants to become a nurse and continue to uphold the beauty and mystery of life...I am sorry. I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me."
Byrnes' dismissal was upheld after a JCCC review, but she and the other three students are allowed to enroll again next fall. Unfortunately, "Byrnes has scheduled an August 12, 2011 wedding in Virginia and has declared her intent to reside in Virginia with her husband next fall and therefore will be unable to resume her education at JCCC at that time," the lawsuit states.
It might be of small consolation to Byrnes, but if she's forced to rearrange her wedding plans, it won't be the first time that matrimony is thwarted by a placenta.