Child poised for surgery in U.S., despite being denied OHIP funding

TORONTO — A three year old boy from Guelph, now has a surgery date set in the U.S., thanks to an outpouring of community support.

Bentley Mitchell has cerebral palsy and currently needs a walker to get around. SDR surgery, offered in St. Louis Children’s Hospital, could help him walk independently.

Bentley was the guest of honour at Granite Homes annual golf tournament in Guelph, Ont.

READ MORE: Families fighting for childrens’ surgery rejected by OHIP

The tournament donated nearly $35,000 raised by participants to Bentley.

His parents had been working for months to raise $125,000 for the surgery and related costs. They have now met their goal.

“It’s been amazing the support we’ve had. You can’t even put into words how touching it is,” said Chad Mitchell, Bentley’s father.

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In contrast, the Ontario government has failed to help when it should have, according to the family.

SDR is covered by OHIP, provided an Ontario specialist signs a form declaring the surgery is appropriate for the patient.

The Mitchells said no specialist would agree to even see Mitchell to assess him, let alone sign the forms.

A half dozen other families interviewed by Global News said they had the same experience.

READ MORE: Outpouring of support after Global News story about boy who needs surgery

The government denies there is a problem getting the children assessed for SDR surgery.

Without a specialist, Bentley’s OHIP application was rejected.

“It’s really upsetting. to have your government say, ‘It’s okay, we will let others pay for you to have this surgery done,'” said Melissa Mitchell, Bentley’s mother.

The family said they are still going ahead and appealing the decision, in part, for other families in the same position.

“It’s our duty to carry this forward, so we are going to continue that fight,” said Bentley’s father.

READ MORE: Ontario family raising $100,000 for surgery so 3-year-old boy can walk

But with the likelihood of victory slim, they’ve been pushing ahead with fundraising — and they had a major boost in July.

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Following Global News coverage of Bentley’s story, Obsidian Group donated over $40,000 from their summer golf tournament to his cause.

That donation, ongoing fundraising and the money from Granite Homes’ Golf Tournament has allowed the Mitchells to reach their goal.

“It’s amazing to see him in his little cart and hopefully in another year he will be walking by himself, that’s the dream,” said Mark Godman, Co-Owner of Granite Homes.

Bentley’s parents said the negative experience they’ve had with the government has been outweighed by the compassion of family, friends and strangers.

“I’ve had a hard time putting these thoughts into words, but I can’t thank people enough,” said Mitchell. “This means everything to Bentley.”

He added that Bentley is too young to remember such generosity, so they will never stop telling him about all the people who helped change his life.

Bentley’s surgery is scheduled for Dec. 15.

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