VICTORIA - A Victoria teen who has raised more than $1 million for children's charities in B.C. requires surgery that could leave her paralysed, but the province refuses to pay for a second opinion from a U.S. specialist, the family says.
Eighteen-year-old Jeneece Edroff said in an interview with CTV she wants an opinion from doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
She has a medical condition that is causing her spine to deteriorate, but the surgery she has been recommended in Canada will likely end with paralysis. Edroff said she wants to learn more about an experimental treatment available at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.
"It will be way better for me to go there because they know these tumours, they know this condition," she told CTV.
"I'm suffering here and they won't pay for it. So I'm not happy."
Edroff, a recipient of the Order of British Columbia, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis at the age of three and began a penny drive four years later, raising more than $1 million in seven years.
British Columbia has a policy of not paying for out-of-province surgeries or second opinions that are available at home, but Edroff said Mayo Clinic physicians are uniquely trained to handle the specific tumours affecting her body.
"Her bones are all disintegrating," said her mother Angie Edroff. "Everything is falling apart in the lower end of the spine."
A spokesman with the Health Ministry said no doctor has contacted the ministry on Edroff's behalf requesting the Mayo Clinic procedures.
But Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid acknowledged to CTV it is rare for B.C. to pay for experimental treatment.
"We usually don't. We usually wait until research has been done and the procedures have been validated and we know they work."
MacDiarmid said she wants to help and has taken steps to have her ministry staff reach out to Edroff.