On her death bed, 18-year-old Leukemia patient Laura Hillier made her mom promise one thing:
“She made me promise she would not die in vain,” said her mother Frances Hillier. “I am going to carry it on.”
So Frances Hillier is determined that nobody else in Canada will die waiting for a stem-cell transplant that could have saved her life.
Laura- who lives in Ontario – was diagnosed with leukemia at age 13, and was put on an aggressive round of treatment. She experienced a few childhood milestones before succumbing to the disease earlier this year – but it didn’t have to happen.
The socialized medicine in Canada that rations out health care kept Laura for receiving the treatment she needs. Laura’s hospital told her they had about 30 bone marrow matches, but the Juravinski Hospital didn’t have enough beds in the high-air-pressure rooms for the procedure and the staff to perform the operation.
The Hamilton Spectator: She Will Not Die In Vain: Burlington Teen Fought For Faster Treatment
The Daily Mail: Friends of girl, 18, with leukemia sign her casket with loving messages in a final goodbye after she died waiting for a hospital bed during a shortage in Canada
The Toronto Star: Plea From Dying Teen: Please Help
The problem is only getting worse. Despite having a wait list of patients and perfect matches, Canadians like Laura are dying because the government hasn’t increased funding to pay for demand.
It’s not isolated to Ontario. The Toronto Star found long wait times in cities like Montreal, Winnipeg and Vancouver. The wait time has grown from six months to one year.
And that’s what happened to Laura. She was put on a waiting list and forced to undergo round after round of chemotherapy to keep the cancer at bay.
She wouldn’t give up. Last summer, she told The Star she wasn’t giving up. “Knowing there is a big army fighting with me fighting this cancer is really helping me through it,” she said. “I have people and parents fighting for me, but other people don’t and this is an issue that needs to be resolved . . . I’m not quitting now.”
After the fifth round, though her mind was sharp as a tack, her body couldn’t take it anymore.
The 18-year-old graduate of Nelson High school and aspiring actress died surrounded by her family. The hospital tried for 90 minutes to revive her.
“They knew her wishes, she did not want to die,” he mom said. “Her brain was sharp as a tack… She was so mad at her body for giving up on her.”
“She would say, ‘Mom if I ever say I want to give up, you have to not let me.’ Most of the time all she told physicians and staff was, ‘I want to live. I need to live. Please help me. Please don’t give up on me.'”
Her body may have given up on her, but Canada has given up on so many like her. So many who die because the government is responsible for doling out medical treatment to people like Laura.
Just before her death, Laura recorded this message:
“Hello. I’m Laura Hillier.”
“. . . I’m in the ICU . . .
I can’t breathe. Soon, a tube will be stuck down my throat again. And for feeding as well.
And I won’t be able to talk.
They said I may not wake up but I really hope I do.
But if I don’t, I hope this never happens to anyone ever again.
And that the government sees that there needs to be funding. Because people are dying when we can save them. We can save these people. Please help.