Makayla Sault died on Monday, months after the family of the 11-year-old girl rejected chemotherapy for her very treatable form of leukemia.
Sault suffered a stroke on Sunday and passed away hours later. The Canadian girl made national headlines last year when her family chose to pursue traditional indigenous medicine and other alternative treatments, sparking a debate over the effectiveness of these forms of treatment and the rights of children to choose their own treatment.
Makayla Sault was diagnosed in March with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and at the time given a 75 percent chance of survival. But after undergoing 11 weeks of chemotherapy, Makayla began to suffer severe side-effects and her mother pulled Makayla from the treatments.
At the time Makayla said she had a vision of Jesus in the hospital which prompted her to request doctors stop the chemo.
“I am writing this letter to tell you that this chemo is killing my body and I cannot take it anymore,” Makayla said.
Makayla’s parents, Pastors Ken and Sonya Sault, stopped the chemotherapy treatments and went to Florida to pursue alternative healing.
“This was not a frivolous decision I made,” Makayla’s mother said. “Before I took her off chemo, I made sure that I had a comprehensive health-care plan that I was very confident that was going to achieve ridding cancer of her body before I left the hospital. This is not something I think may work, this is something I know will work.”
But the McMaster Children’s Hospital, where Makayla had been treated, accused the parents of “failing to provide proper medical care for the child,” and tried to get a judge to force the Saults to return and resume the chemotherapy.
“We just felt so scared that they could actually come in and remove our children from a home where we are loving them and caring for them and we want what’s best for them,” said Sonya Sault.
But ultimately the judge decided that Makayla would not be forced to return to chemotherapy treatment.
Ontario Court Justice Gethin Edward ruled ruled that the family could not be forced to submit Makayla to the conventional medical treatment.
The case of Makayla Sault comes just a few months after an Ontario judge ruled that another First Nations girl could not be taken from her family to receive chemotherapy.