Makayla Sault, Ojibwe child who refused chemo, dies from stroke

NEW CREDIT FIRST NATION – The entire community of New Credit is in mourning today, following the news of the passing of 11 year old Makayla Sault.

The child suffered a stroke on Sunday morning and was unable to recover. Friends and family from across the province travelled to New Credit First Nation today to offer condolences, share tears and pay their respects. The Sault family issued the following statement to the Two Row Times:

“After a valiant fight, almost a year from diagnosis, our daughter, Makayla Sault suffered a stroke on Sunday morning that she just couldn’t recover from.

Surrounded by the love and support of her family, her community and her nation – on Monday, January 19 at 1:50 PM, in her 12th year, Makayla completed her course. She is now safely in the arms of Jesus.

Makayla was on her way to wellness, bravely fighting toward holistic well-being after the harsh side effects that 12 weeks of chemotherapy inflicted on her body.

Chemotherapy did irreversible damage to her heart and major organs. This was the cause of the stroke.

We continue to support Makayla’s choice to leave chemotherapy. At this time we request privacy from the media while we mourn this tragic loss.”

Makayla was the first of two First Nations children in Ontario to exclusively refuse chemotherapy as the sole form of treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Instead, the Sault family pursued indigenous medicine and other alternative therapies to care for their daughter.

The family of a second Six Nations girl who also rejected chemotherapy, who cannot be named due to a court imposed publication ban, released the following words of condolence to the Sault family. “Condolences to her mother, father, brothers and the families on each side. We mourn your loss. I offer you strength to endure through your dark time. That one day you can adjust to the loss in your family circle.”

The family of that Six Nations girl recently pursued a biopsy at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital that confirms their daughter now has no visible signs of cancer in her bone marrow or spinal fluids.

Makayla Sault received 11 weeks of intense chemotherapy, treatment her parents say permanently damaged her internal organs and heart giving her a heartbeat that was twice the rate of a normal child’s heart rate.

Following 11 weeks of treatment, Makayla refused to continue taking chemotherapy, telling her parents that the treatments were “killing her”. She wrote a letter to her parents, hospital officials and Children’s Aid officials saying that she was aware of the consequences of her condition, but that she did not want to continue with the chemotherapy.

The Sault family, and First Nations across Ontario and Canada stood alongside the child’s decision to stop chemotherapy in favor of indigenous medicines to treat an aggressive and complex version of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Peter Fitzgerald, President of the McMaster Children’s Hospital offered his condolences to the Sault family via an emailed statement to the Two Row Times. He wrote, “Everyone who knew Makayla was touched by this remarkable girl. Her loss is heart-breaking. Our deepest sympathy is extended to Makayla’s family.”

Makayla was actively involved in her Sunday school program, the Chosen Kidz, doing dance performances and regularly sharing her Christian faith with many. She would have been 12 years old in June.

Details on the funeral are not being released at this time. The Two Row Times has established a forum to offer condolences to the Sault family and the community of New Credit First Nation.

Flowers may be sent to RHB Anderson in Ohsweken. In lieu of flowers, donations are also being collected for the Chosen Kidz children’s ministry at the New Credit Fellowship Centre in Makayla’s memory.

At the request of the Sault family, please forward all inquiries to Chief Bryan LaForme of the Missisaugas of the New Credit First Nation at 905-768-1133.

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