Betsie Gallardo (Pic via Jessica Bussert)
Betsie Gallardo (Pic via Jessica Bussert)

HIV-positive woman at center of Florida prison controversy dies at home

By | 02.01.11 | 10:01 am

Betsie Gallardo, the HIV-positive woman convicted of spitting at a Florida police officer who was at the center of a controversy recently over her treatment by a Florida prison, has passed away.

Gallardo’s mother, Jessica Bussert, sent out an email Monday night announcing Gallardo’s passing:

This morning at about 10:00am, Betsie Gallardo Bussert passed away. She was surrounded by her parents and her siblings, and the room was simply filled with love. Over the past few weeks Betsie was able to visit with family and friends, walk on the beach, go out to a movie, go shopping, and attend church. She was free and happy and she was blessed in a thousand ways. When the time finally came she was at peace and out of pain. We held her hands and prayed with her up until the last.

Bussert waged a public campaign to get her adopted daughter released on a conditional medical release from a Florida prison. She says Gallardo developed a tumor in her intestines which blocked the organ, preventing her from eating and drinking. Florida officials, Bussert says, refused to provide intravenous nutrition to Gallardo.

As a result of media coverage of the situation, several Florida lawmakers wrote a letter to the state parole board asking them to hold an emergency session to grant the release of Gallardo. Shortly after that, Gallardo was moved to a hospital where she was given intravenous nutrition. On Jan. 5, she was granted a medical release and returned to Indiana.

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