WATCH ABOVE: One Ontario family is being forced to raise $100,000 for crucial surgery so their boy can walk, yet the government insists it is an insured service. Christina Stevens reports.
TORONTO — A Guelph, Ont. family is frantically fundraising so they can afford surgery for their little boy in the U.S.
Three-year old Bentley Mitchell has Cerebral Palsy, and while he has surpassed many expectations, he is unable to walk on his own.
“I have seen Bentley take four steps. That’s the max, four independent steps and when he took those four steps, I was so overjoyed,” said his mother, Melissa Mitchell.
The family has tried every therapy, and every treatment available, including Botox in Bentley’s legs with limited success.
In addition to that, Bentley’s father said the last time the procedure was done, the doctor made a serious mistake.
“They got to the left calf and gave everything that was supposed to be in both sides in the one,” said Chad Mitchell.
So the family has pegged their hopes on raising $100,000 to pay for a surgery that’s not available in Ontario.
Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) is performed by a specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Part of a bone in the spine is removed, and the sensory nerves which are contributing to spasticity, which is the tightening of the muscles, are cut.
Dr. T.S. Park has performed the surgery on more than 2,500 patients, over the course of 30 years.
“Dr. Park accepted Bentley, and not only accepted him but predicted he would walk,” said Bentley’s mother.
One little boy in Brampton is living proof of how much of a difference SDR surgery can make.
Before the surgery, even using a walker required extreme exertion for eight-year-old Aidan Visentinand, and his mother said his condition was regressing.
“Aidan was probably in his wheelchair about 80 or 90 percent of the time,” said Stephanie Visentin.
Now Aidan’s wheelchair sits in the back of their garage, while Aidan plays outside. His mother is committed to advocating for other parents, trying to raise money to pay for the surgery.
Like Bentley’s parents who are frantically trying to come up with the money by December – when his surgery is scheduled.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government says SDR surgery is an insured service they will pay for.
The appropriate specialist just has to sign documents in support of the surgery.
But Bentley’s parents said they have tried, but the pediatric neurosurgeons they were referred to refused to even assess Bentley.
They are not the only ones, Vistentin said at least 10 other families are in the same position.
The Ontario government insisted that there are doctors who will sign the forms, however no names were provided.
The Mitchells aren’t waiting for OHIP, instead they’ve decided to focus on fundraising.
“This will change his life forever,” said Chad Mitchell.
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