By now, you’re familiar with Makayla Sault (below), an 11-year-old with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The disease is treatable with two years of tough chemotherapy and has a nearly 90% survival rate… but Makayla wanted to stop with the chemo and her Ojibwe/First Nations parents were more than happy to oblige, seeking out useless faith-based treatments instead.
Makayla was allowed to quit receiving chemo, but we learned a couple of months ago that her condition had worsened.
At the time, the Ontario Court of Justice ruled that Makayla’s family had every right to decide her treatment and outsiders couldn’t override their wishes.
This was effectively a death sentence for Makayla. She had a strong chance of survival with chemotherapy, but with that option off the table, there was little hope of a recovery.
And now the inevitable has happened: Makayla has died.
Her parents released this statement:
After a valiant fight, almost a year from diagnosis, our daughter, Makayla Sault suffered a stroke on Sunday morning that she just couldn’t recover from.
Surrounded by the love and support of her family, her community and her nation — on Monday, January 19 at 1:50 PM, in her 12th year, Makayla completed her course. She is now safely in the arms of Jesus.
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.
Chemotherapy did irreversible damage to her heart and major organs. This was the cause of the stroke.We continue to support Makayla’s choice to leave chemotherapy. At this time we request privacy from the media while we mourn this tragic loss.”
The National Post points out that Makayla’s parents appear to be flat-out wrong when it comes to blaming chemotherapy for her death:
There appears to be little to no clinical precedent for chemotherapy drugs prompting a childhood stroke several months after treatment has ceased.
A stroke could be consistent with leukemia, however. As a blood disease, leukemia can form clots that cause stroke. Oncology sources contacted Monday night by the National Post, however, said that Makayla’s specific cancer is not consistent with a fatal stroke — unless the cancer had spread to her brain.
It’s sad, and it could have been prevented. But her parents refused to allow the one option that would have given Makayla the greatest chance of survival.
As I said before, I’m not suggesting her parents didn’t care about her, only that their cultural methods of dealing with disease were ineffective. All the experts knew it. When it comes to the health and safety of children, harmful cultural traditions shouldn’t get to trump sound science. If you’re making the decision for yourself, so be it. But when you’re putting someone else’s life in danger, you’ve crossed the line.
Makayla is only the most recent in an all-too-long line of children who have died because their parents opted for faith-based remedies that (obviously) never panned out. Unless governments step in to punish parents who send their children to an early death, I’m afraid she won’t be the last.
(via Sean McGuire. Large portions of this article were posted earlier)