Victoria woman heads to U.S. for controversial MS surgery

Esquimalt Neighbourhood House raises $6,200 toward cost

After four months of fundraisers to send Kate Day for surgery to the United States, the Victoria woman is on her way.

Day, 60, leaves with her son for Seattle on Monday (May 16) for a procedure dubbed liberation therapy, which is not approved in Canada.

She’s hoping the surgery, which unblocks the veins in the neck, will arrest or reverse the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

“I seem to waver between feeling absolutely great and very nervous,” she said from her home on Monday.

The majority of her costs will be covered by the fundraising efforts of the Esquimalt Neighbourhood House Society, where she volunteers.

Since January, the society has hosted a movie night, bake sale, raffle, message-therapy day, a 50-50 draw, raising a total of $6,200 toward Day’s trip. If more money is needed, she’ll borrow it.

The procedure, not including travel expenses, will cost between $5,800 and $8,800 – depending on whether a stent is needed to open up the vein, should balloon angioplasty prove inadequate.

Stents are viewed as a more dangerous form of an already controversial procedure. In October, a Canadian man died from complications from a stent implant.

“The thing with stents is they can migrate,” said Day. “I probably wouldn’t go that route, but it’s scary because you’re there, you want to get better and you’re thinking this is your only option. I don’t know how I’m going to react.”

There are several Canadian studies of liberation therapy, which could one day result in the procedure being covered by the Medical Services Plan. Day, however, said the wait will be too long.

“I don’t know what the timeframe looks like,” she said. “It may be years.”

Since January, her condition has deteriorated somewhat. She now uses a scooter to navigate many places and said she feels weaker.

“I’m just getting worse and I need to stop it where it is, or gain a couple of years,” she said.

rholmen@vicnews.com