Kristina Reid from Whitby holds her son Liam, who will be 3 in two weeks, at Queen's Park, on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Liam needs surgery in the US to save his sight, but OHIP won't pay
Credits: ANTONELLA ARTUSO/QMI AGENCY
The tot - who's just turning three - suffers from a rare eye disease. If he doesn't have surgery within the next year, he'll be blind.
When I wrote about him and his lovely family last week, readers were outraged that the government has refused to pay for the surgery with a world-renowned specialist in Michigan.
Liam's parents, Dave and Kristina, have already paid $45,000 for treatment with Dr. Michael Trese in Beaumont Hospital in Detroit.
They missed an April appointment because they didn't have $5,000 to pay for it.
What's infuriating is that the one other child suffering from the same disease in this province gets his treatment paid for by OHIP.
Now we find another child also received treatment for a similar eye condition from the same doctor, same hospital, 13 years ago - and OHIP paid.
My colleague Jerry Agar has taken up Liam's cause.
Listeners to his Newstalk 1010 show Tuesday heard Susan Wolack of Burlington tell how her son Daniel had been successfully treated by Trese - paid for by OHIP.
"People come to see Dr. Trease from all over the world," Wolack told me in an interview.
Trese re-attached Daniel's retina so he can see light and dark - hugely valuable to anyone who's blind. It helps him with his mobility as he can see doors and windows.
If in future a technology is developed that allows, say, a microchip to be embedded behind his retina, he could be a candidate for such surgery. Daniel goes to a regular school and is doing well, says his proud mom.
"When you're using all this energy fighting this bureaucracy just to get this child's needs met, it's just so wrong in a country like Canada," she said.
Liam's parents have fought an uncaring system every step of the way. The appeal process was skewed against them.
At a Health Services Review and Appeal Board hearing last September, the government was represented by a lawyer, while they had no legal representative.
That's right. The government pays high-priced lawyers to fight parents like the Reids - who simply want to save their child from blindness. Meanwhile, a health ministry official contacted them Friday, telling them to take Liam to another doctor at the Hospital for Sick Children. Kristina is outraged.
"The only way you can examine a child's eye at this age with Liam's disease is under general anesthetic," she told me.
"I'm not going to put him under anesthetic again after a senior physician at Sick Kids has already indicated that nothing more can be done locally," she said.
Surgeons at Sick Kids already operated unsuccessfully on his right eye. He now has no sight in that eye.
The Reids' MPP, Tory Christine Elliott, is also angered at the request for another test.
"I'd like to know from the hospital whether they have a surgeon with sufficient expertise or not," she said.
"It's very clearly documented what the nature of Liam's condition is. Before you go to the point of putting this child under another general anesthetic, the experts should consult with one another to decide if there's something they can do for him," Elliott said.
What's happened to our health system? Have we piddled away every last dollar on boondoggles like eHealth and Ornge? Liam needs sight. Those bureaucrats need hearts.
I won't give up, and I know Agar won't either, until Liam gets the surgery he needs.