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Arizpe Family - Far from home but healthy for life

by Ricardo Arizpe, Kitchener, Ontario

Until our son Erick was 15 months old, we didn’t suspect anything. Then he was diagnosed with severe hemophilia A. In our country, since he couldn’t have proper care in the regular hospital, we had to turn to a private hospital where we had to pay for all the tests. We wanted our son to have a Port-a-Cath, but we were turned down by the specialist, who told us that it was not a solution because we wouldn’t have the factor concentrate to infuse Erick anyway. “You’d better think about changing this stroller for a wheelchair – the child will need it,” said the specialist when he saw Erick for the first time in the hospital.

Erick’s five older cousins, also affected with hemophilia, were suffering from serious joint damage and we decided to find the best health care for our son and to provide him with a better chance than the one he would have in our country. This became even more obvious to us when Erick’s aunt attended the 2006 World Hemophilia Congress in Vancouver and told us about the amazing treatment available for patients with hemophilia.

After much research and consultation on the Internet, much time spent in prayer, and seeing the suffering and deteriorating health of our son, we finally arrived in Toronto five days before he turned three. That same week, Erick was seen by the team of specialists at Sick Kids Hospital. He had a little damage to his knee and multiple bruises, which are “normal” among children with hemophilia in our country. Two months later, he was transferred to McMaster Hospital in Hamilton for special care, and was prescribed an indwelling catheter to help him get his medicine.

When we arrived in Toronto, we began a long process before the Canadian Immigration authorities. Our first residency application hearing was denied, which put at risk Erick’s medical care since we would have to return to our country. We started another process: humanitarian & compassion. Our second request to obtain the Canadian residency was again denied but we were given the opportunity to present more evidence of the risk to his health and how he would suffer if he no longer had the treatment he was receiving in Canada.

It was a great team effort: the Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, Immigration Canada, Hemophilia Ontario, The Gathering Place Church, the Canadian Hemophilia Society, the Hemophilia Treatment Centre at McMaster, and many more people contributed to our efforts to give a better future filled with opportunities for Erick. Finally our dream came true.

After a long wait of over 45 months, our permanent resident application has been accepted and approved; we can continue the subsequent processes without the heavy burden of uncertainty.

At his last appointments with the hematologist and his pediatrician, both commented that Erick is in very good condition and his knee has fully recovered. “I’m so glad, for the first time, I see him without a single bruise on his body,” said the pediatrician last week.

Erick is now turning 7 years old; he just finished first grade and is looking forward to his swimming lessons. He is still a little afraid of biking but intends to learn it soon. As a family we started to learn home infusing and Erick has already shown interest in learning to self-infuse.

We want to say THANK YOU. We have now been accepted to continue with our residence application and Erick has been granted an exception to stay in Canada, where he may continue to receive treatment. The letter the CHS wrote together with the one from Dr. Anthony Chan, clinic director at the Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation, McMaster Division, were the most important documents on which the immigration officers based their decision.

Once again, thank you. – Arizpe Family

- August 2011