A First Nation community mourns the loss of 11-year-old Makayla Sault who died Monday, after suffering a stroke on Sunday.
The New Credit First Nation girl who had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has been in the public’s eye in recent months because she quit chemotherapy and sought alternative and indigenous medicine instead.
“Makayla was on her way to wellness, bravely fighting toward holistic well-being after the harsh side-effects that 12 weeks of chemotherapy inflicted on her body,” a family statement reads. “Chemotherapy did irreversible damage to her heart and major organs. This was the cause of the stroke.”
Sault stopped her treatments due to severe side-effects. According to a New Credit First Nations press release, Sault experienced “Septic infections, organ damage (which is likely permanent), severe weight loss, vomiting, mouth sores, curvature of the spine, dangerously high levels of toxicity, and devastating pain, nausea and exhaustion.”
After stopping chemotherapy despite McMaster hospital’s medical recommendation’s to continue, Sault and her family attended the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida which claims to help its patients learn how to help themselves. Although the institute is registered as a “massage establishment” in Florida, Hippocrates offers counselling and nutrition programs that, according to its website, have cured many people with fatal cancers.
When McMaster Children’s hospital’s Oncologist Dr. Vicky Breakey learned of Sault’s family’s plans to withdraw her from her chemotherapy treatments before her full cycle was complete, she contacted Brant’s Family and Children’s Services (FACS).
FACS investigated whether Sault was a child in need of protection but concluded she was not. McMaster took no further action in that case which resulted in the family’s ability to ignore the doctor’s recommendations.
11-year-old Six Nations girl sought same treatment in Fall
Another Aboriginal girl who was diagnosed with ALL in August quit chemotherapy in order to attend Florida’s Hippocrates Health Institute as well. This 11-year-old Six Nations girl, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, was caught in a lawsuit between Brant’s FACS and McMaster hospital. Unlike the case with Makayla Sault, McMaster took legal action to help ensure that this girl’s health was protected.
On Nov. 14, 2014, in a Brantford court, Ontario Justice Gethin Edward ruled that the girl was not in need of protection and that her family should not be forced to adhere to a west-centric hospital’s recommendation. The verdict stated: “[The mother]’s decision to pursue traditional medicine for [her daughter] is her Aboriginal right. Further, such a right cannot be qualified as a right only if it is proven to work by employing the western medical paradigm. To do so would be to leave open the opportunity to perpetually erode aboriginal rights.”
This family knows the Sault family personally and after seeing how well Makayla was doing upon her return from Hippocrates, looked into the alternative treatments offered there. In September, the girl and her family spent $18,000 and received treatment in Florida that relied heavily on learning raw veganism.
The current state of health of this Six Nations girl is unknown.