“Culturally appropriate alternative medicines” for leukemia may mean death

This is the Sarah Hershberger case only with Native healing treatments.

Dr. to Ojibwes, “anyone who says that traditional medicine works should be thrown in jail”

McMaster Children’s Hospital delivered a message to the Sault family Wednesday with an ultimatum; either bring their daughter Makayla back to McMaster or another hospital for chemotherapy, or treat the child with exclusively with alternative therapy via Ongwehowe Onongwatri:to (traditional medicines) and get reported to the Children’s Aid Society for failure to protect your child.

McMaster Children’s Hospital staff are aware that the Ojibwe family has been treating their 11 year old daughter with Ongwehowe Onongwatri:yo: (indigenous medicines) via a traditional healer on Six Nations. However they said that because there are no studies done to give hard statistics on the efficacy of using Ongwehowe Onongwatri:yo in treating Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia with a positive Philladelphia chromosome, the hospital is viewing the Sault family’s choice of following Makayla’s wishes to use traditional medicines instead of chemotherapy as failing to provide proper medical care for the child.

Now, the family has taken additional steps to protect their rights and Makayla’s rights to use culturally appropriate alternative medicines. The New Credit First Nation Band Council has issued a letter of support to the family and stated in a meeting on Monday that they would unequivocally support the Sault family, and not permit anyone to forcibly remove the child from the reserve.

Makayla had major adverse reactions to the numerous chemotherapies that she was administered and as a result asked her parents to stop the treatments and instead give her traditional medicines. Current pharmaceutical protocol involving the type of cancer Makayla has is aggressive and involves a number of chemotherapies administered simultaneously. In one case, her mother says the 65lb child was given the adult dosage.

Sault said that McMaster presented options via a mediator Wednesday morning, saying while Makayla is being treated exclusively with Onongwatri:yo: on the New Credit First Nation the oncologists at McMaster still want to monitor her bloodwork through the family’s physician. However the hospital says they are now obligated under the Child and Family Services Act to report Makayla to the Children’s Aid Society as a “child in need of protection”.

The hospital officials have stated the use of these alternatives is “irrational”. It’s not. It’s belief-based so they appear to be acting rationally in their own frame of mind. Once again we are faced with almost a right to die argument. Can a child who is in agreement be FORCED to undergo treatment? I’m thinking there is no good answer here.

This issue of using traditional meds may be brought up at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. There may be an existing law that is strong enough to protect her wishes: According to Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada, indigenous people have the right to utilize traditional medicines without discrimination and they cannot be forcibly removed from their traditional territory.

Tip: Mike Weinberg

  4 comments for ““Culturally appropriate alternative medicines” for leukemia may mean death

  1. Frederick
    May 15, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    That’s sad, and it is cruel to say it but, my sympathies to the parents, because you just killed your kid. Of course side effect of aggressive treatments are bad, I could understand a mature adult who had a full life to prefer dying instead of going through it. But a kid, this girl have all the life before her. Sad. It’s hard, the temptation of blaming the parents are strong, but they have live in this belief system all their life, and of course some of it might work ( like “aspirin”), so like you said, for them it is rational

  2. busterggi
    May 15, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    “Culturally appropriate alternative medicines” for ANYTHING may mean death

    Fixed it.

  3. Andrew
    May 15, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    How about we let them do their voodoo but also have to get the modern medicine? Unless there is a case of drug interference it should placate most cases of religiousness.

  4. May 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    It might be more the Two Row report that is emphasizing ‘traditional medicine’ over the Saults’ own belief that Jesus made an apparition to her daughter – there are no other media sources that have interviewed the Saults, and the daughter only says that she “started another form of treatment” after leaving the hospital in the video, but talks a great deal about Jesus’ apparition, who told her she was healed. Her parents on their facebook page relate that their daughter spoke at a Ted Shuttlesworth Crusade a few days ago, and said that everything had turned around, presumably for the better, after the apparition.

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