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Makayla Sault, prior First Nation child who refused chemo, relapsed: doctor

10/03/2014 06:29 EDT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 EST
A Hamilton oncologist testifying at a hearing into an indigenous child who has quit chemotherapy in favour of traditional medicine says in a similar case earlier this year, another First Nation girl stopped her chemo and has now suffered a relapse. 

Makayla Sault's leukemia has come back, according to testimony by McMaster Children's Hospital's Vicky Breakey. The 11-year-old girl from the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation left chemotherapy treatment at the hospital in May to pursue traditional indigenous medicine.

Breakey said although Makayla​ left the hospital in May, they have still been monitoring her health.

Makayla's case was investigated by the Children's Aid Society but it decided not to intervene. 

Breakey testified at a hearing involving another aboriginal girl who also left chemo treatment to pursue indigenous medicine. Her identity is protected by a publication ban. 

Breakey said that in this new case, the girl would have had a 90 to 95 per cent chance of survival if she had continued with chemotherapy. The pediatric oncologist also cautioned that those odds diminish the longer she is without treatment and said if she doesn't return to chemotherapy, she will die. 

McMaster doctors were informed by the girl's mother that they had decided to quit chemo after 10 days of treatment. The same day, the hospital referred the case to children's aid. 

After investigating, the Children's Aid Society decided not to intervene. 

The hospital then decided to take the society to court in an attempt to force it to act. 

Brant Children's Aid Society director Andrew Koster testified today that he felt the case should have been heard at the provincial Consent and Capacity Board, which has the power to determine if the girl had the capacity to make her own decisions about her care. 

The girl and her family are not participating in the court proceeding. 

In an interview with CBC, her mother said: "As a member of the Six Nations Confederacy, I will not have my decisions of health care for my child debated and judged in the Canadian judicial system.… The Canadian judicial system does not have the authority to determine our law or practices, which predates the existence of Canada, valid or otherwise."

The girl is currently receiving treatment at the Hippocrates Health Institute, a holistic centre in Florida. Makayla also sought treatment there over the summer. 

Makayla's family declined to be interviewed, but in a statement released by her band, they say she is recovering from leukemia and the effects of chemotherapy. 

The statement says, "She is under the care of her family and is receiving traditional medicines to assist with her recovery."

The court proceedings will continue next Wednesday. 

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