A controversial decision by an 11-year-old Ontario girl battling cancer is again raising debate over who gets final say over an ailing child's medical treatment.
Sault has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and has asked to be treated with Six Nations traditional medicine known as "Ongwehowe Onǫhgwatri:yo:," as she says her body cannot take any more chemo.
She described her situation in a video that was posted to YouTube on May 7:
"I have asked my mom and dad to take me off this treatment because I do not want to go this way anymore. I am sick to my stomach all the time and I lost about 10 pounds because I couldn't keep nothing down. I know that what I have can kill me, but I don’t want to die in a hospital in chemo, weak and sick."
She went on to say that Jesus visited her and said she was healed, and that "God the creator has the final say over my life."
Makayla's parents, Pastors Ken and Sonya Sault, supported her decision and allowed her to begin the traditional treatments.
But that has drawn the attention of Ontario's children's aid authorities, The National Post reported.
"All in all, it's a very tragic situation," executive director Andy Koster told the newspaper. "We have to decide as an agency how we wish to handle this.”
Members of the Six Nations and New Credit First Nation have vowed to "peaceably protect" Makayla if authorities try to take her away from her family, the Two Row Times website reported Tuesday.
Makayla underwent chemotherapy at McMaster Children's Hospital for 11 weeks before her cancer went into remission. She later felt side effects such as stomach sickness and weight loss, which prompted her to ask to stop the treatments.
McMaster Children's Hospital did not comment on the specifics of her case, but said that it must alert authorities when a child has been seen to be at risk, the Post reported.
Her mother Sonya told the Two Row Times that Makayla's doctors disagree with the traditional treatments.
Hospital staff also allegedly said she needed a psychiatric evaluation after her vision of Jesus.
Traditional indigenous healing, which can involve ceremonies and herbal medicine, has not been scientifically proven by science as a complementary and alternative therapies, says the Canadian Cancer Society.
For her part, Makayla said in the video that she has been feeling "awesome" since she began the new treatments.
"I gained some of my weight back, I'm eating and drinking and I can hold it all down, and I am getting my strength back," she said.
Provincial authorities in Canada have intervened before in cases where medical care has been refused for spiritual reasons.
The B.C. government obtained court orders in 2007 to seize four babies that were born as sextuplets into a family of Jehovah's Witnesses, so that they could receive blood transfusions after two had already died, CBC News reported.
Jehovah's Witnesses consider blood transfusions a violation of God's law.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Makayla Sault is from Brantford, Ont. She is from the New Credit First Nation.
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