Saturday, July 12, 2008

Air Canada's rules may cost little girl's life!

A window of opportunity appears to have closed for a five-year-old girl, who is suffering from a rare genetic disorder after Air Canada failed to allow her to board a flight to China, where she hoped to recieve an experimental stem cell treatment that may extend her life.

Seeking treatment for Batten disease, which is only available in China, Hailey and her mother Miranda Goranflo were headed to Beijing after making the trip from Louisville, Ky.

Batten disease is a rare and fatal genetic disorder for which there is as yet no cure. It begins in childhood, and people who suffer from it generally do not live past the age of 12. Patients commonly experience vision problems, seizures, clumsiness or slowed growth, among other problems.

Still, Hailey's family managed to raise nearly $100,000 for the trip to China, where the little girl was scheduled to receive the experimental stem cell treatment.

But when they went to board their Air China flight at Vancouver Airport on Monday, the airline wanted medical clearance.

That arrived the next day. But the next available flight was on Air Canada. But even with her doctor's assurances they refused to allow Hailey on board. Instead the airline demanded time to assess her situation.

But before that could happen, her condition deteriorated and she was rushed to Children's Hospital in Vancouver after suffering a seizure. On Friday the news got even worse for Hailey because no doctor in Vancouver would clear her to fly to China.

So on Friday night, she was scheduled to return to Kentucky via Medivac.

After this horrific ordeal, Miranda's mom can't help but think that if only Air Canada had bent its rules a bit, her daughter could be in Beijing now getting better, instead of going home, possibly to die.

"This was her chance to get better. This was her chance and she's missed it."

But Air Canada spokesperson Angela Mah defended the airline's decision not to allow Hailey on board the flight to China.

"Our first priority is always to ensure the safety of all of our customers and the crew onboard our flight,'' she said.

When informed that Batten disease is not contagious, she said the Airline will always err on the side of safety and caution.

Hailey's three-year-old brother Carter also suffers from the illness, as Goranflo describes on the family's website at


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