Politics | Petition

Whānau of 12-year-old girl fighting for her life asks government to intervene

The whānau of a 12-year-old girl with osteosarcoma, a terminal bone cancer, has asked Associate Health Minister David Seymour to step in and allow her to receive an experimental drug being trialled overseas.

Today Meila Davis’ [Ngāti Raukawa] grandmother, Sandy Gibbons went to Parliament steps holding a framed picture of her granddaughter and a petition, handing it off to Seymour and his colleagues.

“She’s fighting. She’s just such a lovely child and she’s just trying to eat and she’s just trying to be normal.

“She doesn’t know the extent of how sick she is but we just keep hoping she is going to get better.

“She’s been through a horrific time, and she doesn’t want to go through that torture.”

Meila Davis. photo: supplied

Davis has gone through chemotherapy, which has failed, and her family wants to use EnGeneIC Dream Vector (EDV), which has seen positive outcomes in pancreatic cancer patients in Australia.

“The chemo that they were giving her is 40 years old, it hasn’t changed, and as a grandparent to sit there and watch her lose her hair, coming out in chunks, and throwing up in a bucket and screaming with the pain, it’s just so hard to take.

“This could change so much. You talk about cancer and people automatically write you off, they take these children in hospitals so far and they send them home on palliative care and they write them off, that’s it,” Gibbons said.

Meila Davis with her whānau Photo: supplied

Seymour is sympathetic to Davis’ whānau and is representing them in front of Health Minister Shane Reti.

“The issue is Christchurch Hospital or Health New Zealand [Te Whatu Ora] allowing it to be done on its premises. This is not like taking a Panadol, it’s a serious treatment that has to be done in a medical setting and the last barrier is a group of doctors there allowing that to happen.

“You’ve got a doctor whose willing to prescribe it, you’ve got a patient willing to take it, and you’ve got a pharmaceutical company willing to give it but these doctors decided that they think it’s their choice to block it.”

Patient Voice Aotearoa, Malcolm Mulholland, who walked alongside Gibbons today, said the reason for Davis not to be receiving the treatment makes no sense.

“The data coming from Australia is that this drug is a lot safer than some of our chemo drugs, some of those drugs the Melia herself has received.

“I would like to see there to be more urgency, I think it’s heartening to hear the comments made by David Seymour but what we need to have happened is for Shane Reti the minister of health, I think to step in and order a review urgently into the decision that’s been mad by Health New Zealand,” Mulholland said.

Seymour thinks Reti is taking it seriously and respectfully, having had a few conversations about Davis already.

He said the government assessed treatments by “how many qualities of life years will it save?

“It is challenging, we have to respect the clinical autonomy of doctors but also this is a taxpayer-funded facility that should be used for patients and here you’ve got a patient, a pharmaceutical company and a doctor that want to use it in a certain way. My personal view is it’s not our choice to deny her this chance.”