April 28, 2014 11:56 pm

Alberta family facing huge medical bill to get treatment for young girl

EDMONTON – A Wetaskiwin girl with a cyst in her brain will soon head south for surgery, and her family is worried about how to pay for the expensive treatment.

Eleven-year-old Mikayla Curran suffers daily from headaches and double vision.

“At Christmas time, we’re trying to get a Christmas list from her and she kept saying, ‘Mom, I don’t want anything. Please just make me better,” said her mother, Angela Curran.

Months ago, an MRI revealed a pineal cyst deep in Mikayla’s brain.

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While her neurologist did not link it to the symptoms, other medical professionals disagree.

“At the end of the day, we feel the pineal cyst probably does play a role, the psychiatrist feels that it does play a role. Unfortunately, it has not been recognized as such,” said family physician Dr. Deborah Jeffery.

The procedure to remove the cyst is not performed in Canada.

“The surgery, if it were to be done in Canada, is done in a fashion where it’s very invasive and her life could be threatened by having the surgery. There is an alternative way of doing the surgery in the United States, and that’s what we feel that she should be given the opportunity,” Jeffery added.

The cost of the surgery, and travel to and from Houston — where it could be removed — could cost the family about $210,000. And that may not be covered by Alberta Health.

Shane Wambolt of Stony Plain had the same type of cyst, and the same surgery in California, in 2010. He says it cured him, but he’s still waiting for reimbursement.

The family of a teenager in Airdrie was reimbursed in 2009.

“These decisions are made by an independent committee and they look at individual circumstances and more importantly, they look at clinical evidence,” said Alberta health minister Fred Horne.

Mikayla’s parents feel she can’t wait, and have booked the surgery in Houston for June, hoping the pain she’s endured for a year will finally stop.

“I’m extremely hopeful,” said her mom. “It’s all we have at this point, right?”

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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