A B.C. family racing against time to raise money for a potentially life-saving treatment has had their wish for a miracle answered.
Leah Wiebe, who is battling an aggressive form of leukemia and only had weeks left to live, got approval on Friday from the BC Ministry of Health to provide funding for a revolutionary treatment in Seattle called CAR-T cell therapy.
Wiebe was accepted into the program but couldn’t afford the deposit for the treatment, which is around $650,000 CDN.
In an attempt to raise the funds, her family took to social media and started an online fundraising campaign.
To date the family has raised almost $295,000.
In addition to raising the money online, Leah’s father Mike Rosenau contacted the ministry and the team at the Fred Hutch Cancer Center in Seattle where Wiebe would potentially get her treatment.
On Wednesday, the ministry put together an emergency committee to review her case and ended up approving the funding necessary for Wiebe’s out-of-country medical expenses.
After getting the news Rosenau said there “was complete elation, weeping, I couldn’t stop crying and just the realization that this happened. My daughter and son-in-law couldn’t believe the news until the letter was in their hands. Because there had been so many disappointments and feeling like this will never happen.”
With the opportunity to fight her leukemia, Rosenau said it was like a huge weight was taken off of my daughter’s shoulders.
Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration recommended approving CAR-T cell therapy.
WATCH: B.C. couple raises funds for woman’s cancer treatment in the U.S.
According to an update on Wiebe’s fundraising page, the government will cover the medical expenses for the CAR-T trial but any emergency or unrelated medical expenses will be up to the family.
Wiebe and Ryan moved their two sons, five-year old Oliver and 23-month-old Lincoln, from Terrace to Vancouver so the family could be together.
Wiebe’s mother is in Vancouver to help care for the boys.
Oliver has a speech disorder called apraxia. He needs $50,000 a year for therapy, which he hasn’t been able to regularly access since his mom fell ill.
WATCH: We first met Oliver and his family at The Variety Show of Hearts
Now, after getting the go-ahead that she is physically still eligible to participate in the therapy treatment, Wiebe and her family are planning to travel to Seattle next week.
The update online says the family will have to live in Seattle for a minimum of three months while Wiebe gets treatment.
Once Wiebe finishes the treatment she will need to return to Vancouver for a bone marrow transplant which will require a hospital stay of at least six weeks.
Wiebe will be leaving for Seattle on July 18 and starting her treatment the next day.
“When the doctors said she had three weeks to live, it means that no, that’s not the reality now,” Rosenau said.
“Now she’s going to get the very best treatment that is capable of saving her life. She’s going to go into that program and it has the power to bring her leukemia into remission, which will open the door for a bone marrow transplant and is the best hope for her to be healed of this.”
~ with files from Jon Azpiri and Jennifer Palma