Brave Meila’s fight for life

Queenstown’s Meila Davis, 12, who was diagnosed with terminal osteosarcoma last year. PHOTO:...
Queenstown’s Meila Davis, 12, who was diagnosed with terminal osteosarcoma last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
At just 12 years old, Queenstowner Meila Davis’ resilience has carried her through far more than the average pre-teen.

Last June the netball-loving youngster was diagnosed with terminal osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

After Meila’s diagnosis, her family relocated to Christchurch for treatment, which wasn’t successful.

While there she suffered a collapsed lung, requiring surgery.

After nine months, the family’s been able to move home, to Jack’s Point, where Meila’s started oral chemotherapy.

Her mum, Kristin, says, for the time being, it’s working.

Her wee girl’s been able to return to her year 8 class at Te Kura Whakatipu o Kawarau, the family’s enjoyed a four-day holiday in the Gold Coast and she’s even managed to play part of a game of netball.

But the family still has a huge fight on their hands.

After treatment in Christchurch was unsuccessful, Meila was recommended for a potentially life-saving drug, EnGeneIC Dream Vector (EDV), which would cost about $200,000.

Because it’s still in a trial phase, and because there’s no research on side effects for children, Health New Zealand Te Whatu Ora has denied Meila access to it.

"We’ve established the drug can definitely be administered here, but Te Whatu Ora aren’t supporting any form of experimental treatment — even if it would have positive outcomes for Meila," Kristin says.

"The system is so backwards.

"I used to think we live in New Zealand, we have a great health system with so much support, but we are so far behind.

"If we were Australian citizens, we would’ve had the drug in February."

In fact, Meila was close to being accepted for EDV treatment across the ditch, at Sydney Children’s Hospital, where an experimental trial’s under way.

But she was ultimately turned down due to her age — that trial’s been limited to children aged 14 and over.

And while Dunedin clinic P3 Research has offered to provide the facilities for Meila to undergo the treatment, the family is struggling to find a doctor who’ll agree to treat her.

"We have had lots of adult oncologists put their hand up, eager to help, but when it comes to it, they agree that Meila is best to be treated by a children’s oncologist."

Because Te Whatu Ora isn’t supporting the EDV trial for Meila, it’s creating another hurdle for the family to find a children’s oncologist to prescribe it for her.

But Kristin’s grateful the chemotherapy’s working, for now, and says they’re determined to keep fighting.

"We are counting our lucky stars, as we have been given a second chance to fight and not waste time to try prolong, or save Meila’s life.

"We are going to keep pleading with Te Whatu Ora," Kristin says.

Te Whatu Ora has been approached for comment.