Ontario girl who refused chemo in favour of traditional treatment dies
Published Monday, January 19, 2015 8:30PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 19, 2015 9:41PM EST
The 11-year-old Ontario girl who quit chemotherapy last year in favour of traditional First Nations therapies has died.
Makayla Sault suffered a stroke on Sunday and died on Monday, according to her family.
She had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For that form of cancer, chemotherapy has an estimated 80 per cent success rate among patients of Makayla’s age.
Makayla, a member of the New Credit First Nation near Caledonia, Ont., made national headlines last May when she refused to continue her chemo treatments.
Makayla’s parents said she suffered severe side effects from the chemo and wanted to stop the treatments. Doctors at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton resisted and called child welfare authorities.
But after meeting with the girl’s parents, the Children’s Aid Society decided it would not intervene in the family’s decision to pursue alternative treatments. The CAS also said removing Makayla from her home “would cause her great harm.”
In a video posted to YouTube in May 2014, Makayla said that chemo was “killing my body.
“I have asked my mom and dad to take me off the treatment because I don’t want to go this way anymore,” she said.
McMaster Children’s Hospital later said it respected the CAS’s decision in the case.
Makayla’s family blamed chemotherapy for her death Monday, in a statement issued to Two Row Times.
“Makayla was on her way to wellness, bravely fighting toward holistic well-being after the harsh side effects that 12 weeks of chemotherapy inflicted on her body,” the statement said.
“Chemotherapy did irreversible damage to her heart and major organs. This was the cause of the stroke.”
In a separate but similar case, an Ontario judge ruled last November that another aboriginal girl with cancer had a constitutional right to forgo chemo in favour of traditional medicine.
That girl, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, was also receiving chemo for leukemia at McMaster Children's Hospital before her mother took her to Florida to receive herbal treatments instead.
McMaster doctors had said that the girl had about a 90 to 95 per cent chance of survival with chemo. But the judge rejected the hospital’s bid to compel the girl’s family and the Brant Family Children’s Services to force the child back into treatment.