Boy’s best chance for survival costs $800,000

Danette Dooley
Published on February 9, 2016

A family friend of 13-year-old Connor McGrath is urging people to sign an on-line petition she’s set up calling on the federal and provincial governments to contribute financially to treatment that could be the boy’s best chance at life.

Connor is from this province but is living in Edmonton with his parents. His mother Kim (Searle) is from southeast Placentia. His father Gerald is from St. Bride’s.

Connor was diagnosed with leukemia in July 2013.

After chemotherapy treatments, his cancer went into remission. However, he relapsed in May 2015.

Aggressive treatment to try and ready Connor for a bone marrow transplant failed.

Connor’s medical team feel his best chance is to be transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. The treatment targets children, like Connor, who have relapsed and are not responding to conventional therapy.

The treatment is estimated to cost upwards to $800,0000. Government has denied the funding as the therapy is still considered experimental.


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Marlaina Adams, who started the petition on, said it’s directed at the prime minister, Alberta’s health minister and this province’s premier and health minister.

“Every time somebody signs the petition, the decision makers included in the petition get an e-mail,” Adams said during a recent phone interview.

As of Feb. 2, the petition had garnered over 5,000 signatures.

“I was aiming for 5,000 (signatures) originally but now that we’ve reached that, I’d like it to keep going,” Adams said.

If governments come forward with money towards Connor’s treatment it may help other families facing similar medical hurdles in the future, she said.

Adams said friends and family of the McGraths have numerous ongoing fundraisers that have already raised over $20,000.

However, without government assistance it will be impossible to raise the staggering amount of money needed for the treatment.

“Time definitely isn’t on our side here. We don’t have a year or so to raise the money,” Adams said.

A Facebook page Support for Connor McGrath has over 2,300 members. People are encouraged to join the group to follow the family’s story and to find ways to contribute to the cause.

Further questions can be directed to Adams at