Court Rules Canadian Girl Cannot Be Forced to Have Chemotherapy

PHOTO: Makayla Sault, 11, appears in this video posted to YouTube on May 13, 2014 titled, "Ojibwe child refuses chemo, wants traditional medicine instead."YouTube
Makayla Sault, 11, appears in this video posted to YouTube on May 13, 2014 titled, "Ojibwe child refuses chemo, wants traditional medicine instead."

A Canadian court has ruled that the family of a 11-year-old girl with cancer cannot be forced to treat her with chemotherapy.

The girl is a member of the Six Nations tribe of American Indians and has been suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In September, the girl's mother stopped treatment after just 10 days and took the girl to a holistic healing center in Florida.

McMaster Children's Hospital, which was treating the girl in Ontario, Canada, asked Brant Family Children's Services to intervene and bring the girl back from Florida for treatment.

When BFCS refused, the hospital took the organization to court in an effort to force it to bring the girl back to Canada.

McMaster Children's Hospital President Dr. Peter Fitzgerald said with chemotherapy the girl had a 90 percent to 95 percent chance for survival.

Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward ruled Friday that the girl could not be forced by BFCS to be treated with chemotherapy, the Toronto Star reported.

Edward ruled Friday that the court could not intervene due to the family's aboriginal rights under the Canadian constitution.

Andrew Koster, the family's attorney, said it was the family's right to choose their daughter's treatment.

"This wasn't a one-time blood transfusion such as in a Jehovah Witness situation," Koster said. "This was going to be two years of chemo. Does that mean we take this child away for two years and suppose she didn't make it?"

Chiefs of tribal reserves neighboring the girl's applauded the decision.

"It reaffirms our right to be Indian and to practice our medicines in the traditional way," said Chief Bryan Laforme of the Mississaugas of New Credit, which is a neighboring reserve.

After the ruling, Hamilton Health Sciences, the medical group that oversees McMaster Children's hospital, said in a statement they remained "committed to support this child's treatment with compassion and respect."

"Our motivation has always been and remains that this child receives life-saving medical treatment in a timely manner," read a portion of the statement.