KELOWNA – Kelowna teen Walid Waitkus is one of five plaintiffs in a landmark lawsuit against the B.C. government. The 18-year-old suffered from the effects of a badly curved spine due to scoliosis and needed corrective surgery, a procedure he waited two and a half years for. After the operation, he was left paralyzed. His mother, Debbie Waitkus told Global News he woke up from the surgery with no sensation or movement below his belly button.
He didn’t even get the surgery for his severe scoliosis in B.C. His mother, Debbie Waitkus, tired of waiting for B.C. Children’s hospital to operate on her son had started an internet campaign called “No More Waiting for Walid” and it worked. The campaign caught the attention of the Shriners Hospital who quickly arranged for Walid’s surgery at their hospital in Spokane. Unfortunately, that left him a paraplegic and he’ll spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair. It’s unclear whether he would have been paralyzed if he’d had the surgery earlier but the Health Minister at the time still apologized.
Walid’s legal costs are being covered by the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), a nonprofit that defends constitutional rights and freedoms of Canadians in the courts.
“This lawsuit is one of the most important ones that we have ever supported or taken on,” says Marni Soupcoff, Executive Director of the CCF.
Soupcoff says the lawsuit seeks recognition that British Columbians have a Charter right to be able to buy private health insurance. Minister of Health Terry Lake turned down a request for comment, instead the Ministry of Health sent an e mail statement.
“We understand waiting for surgery can be frustrating. The Ministry is working with health authorities and with the Doctors of B.C. to improve how surgeries are coordinated – and to improve how we prioritize patients,” the statement reads.
After the Ministry’s request for a delay, the B.C. Supreme court trial is now expected to begin in May.