A US girl who believed she was on the cusp of death for three years has learned her 'terminal illness' was made up by her mother, who was using the sob story to pay bills and fund trips.
Rylee Abbuhl, 11, was told at age eight that she had a rare central nervous system condition that couldn't be cured. She attended counselling for years to process the fact she'd never realise her dreams of attending university and playing college softball.
But it has since emerged her health condition - which had seen her mother Lindsey Abbuhl, 34, pocket thousands of dollars in donations and freebies - had been entirely fabricated.
Abbuhl had benefited hugely from the lie, receiving thousands of dollars through crowdfunding, getting gifted free tickets to Sea World, and being named the guest of honour at a Texas A&M softball game.
Authorities in Canton, Ohio uncovered the ruse last week, according to court documents. A neglect and abuse complaint was subsequently filed in Family Court.
"There is no evidence to support [the] mother's claim that Rylee is terminally ill," the complaint, obtained by the Canton Repository, reads - noting that a medical expert had reviewed all the girl's records and found no illness.
The Stark County Sheriff's Office says Abbuhl has now lost custody of Rylee for her own safety.
She has been placed in the care of her father, Jamie Abbuhl, who had been growing concerned and suspicious about his ex-wife's claims and is believed to have raised the alarm.
"If she needed my heart, I'd give it to her today," he told the Canton Repository. "As far as her going to die? No."
Abbuhl denied making up the illness when confronted last week, according to the publication.
Rylee will remain with her father until a court hearing in June.