Teen looking to U.S., Mexico for alternative treatments

Canadian Press, July 16, 2002

CALGARY (CP) _ A dying teenager who made national headlines in her lengthy court battle against forced blood transfusions is now scrambling to find non-conventional treatment, including herbal remedies, at clinics south of the border, her father said Monday.

The leukemia-stricken girl, a staunch Jehovah’s Witness, went to court almost 20 times to fight blood transfusions because accepting blood is against her religious beliefs. According to the Alberta Child Welfare Act, the girl and her family cannot be named.

After losing her case in several courts, the girl took her fight to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled last week it would not hear the case.

The 16-year-old, who has had 38 blood transfusions against her will, is searching for a clinic in California or Mexico as a last hope of prolonging her life.

Although the girl’s medical condition has improved, it is not expected she will live much longer. She checked out of hospital Friday.

Doctors earlier gave the teen a 40 to 50 per cent chance of beating the cancer with blood transfusions. But in late June, the disease had seeped through her back, forming several lesions.

The mother of Tyrell Dueck _ a teen boy who had a similar court battle in Saskatchewan in 1999 and died after going to Mexico for treatment _ agrees with the Calgary teen’s decision to search for an alternative.

The Dueck family spent $50,000 for Tyrell, 13, to be treated with herbs, mega-vitamins, laetrile and shark cartilage during a one-month stay at a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. Six weeks after that treatment, the cancerous tumour had spread and the boy died.

His death has spurred many legal debates over the role of religion, state, medical science and alternative remedies for teens with fatal conditions who want to choose their treatments. In Dueck’s and the Calgary teen’s cases, the provincial governments dropped the legal battle after doctors reported that the cancer had spread _ an issue that frustrates Yvonne Dueck.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday July 21, 2002.
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