J.J., the First Nations girl with leukemia
In late September, an 11-year-old First Nations girl with leukemia found herself at the centre of an intense court battle between her family and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).
J.J., as she was known in court where a publication ban shielded her identity, was being treated with chemotherapy at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton this summer. In August, her mother removed her from the treatment, opting instead for alternative treatment at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida.
HHS sought a court order for the Brant Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to remove the girl from her family so she could resume chemotherapy, a treatment doctors testified would give her a 90 to 95 per cent chance of survival.
The CAS opposed the order, at one point saying it was “draconian” to separate the girl from her family.
On Nov. 14, after nine court sessions, Justice Gethin Edward ruled it was J.J.’s mother’s aboriginal right to treat her daughter with traditional medicine instead of chemotherapy. McMaster did not appeal the verdict.
Both J.J. and Makayla Sault — a 10-year-old New Credit First Nation girl who refused to be treated with chemotherapy at McMaster Children’s Hospital in the spring of 2014 — are still alive.
But a CBC News investigation into the Florida clinic where both sought treatment has raised worrisome questions about the quality of treatment they’ve received.