Calgary couple asks for help to grant daughter’s wish to walk
CALGARY — A Calgary couple has rented their home and sold many of their belongings so their four-year-old daughter can start treatment overseas before a pricey surgery in the hope their little girl will be able to walk on her own.
Ariela Berkovich was diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia, cerebral palsy at the age of two. She has qualified for selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery in the U.S., which will cost US$100,000.
“She cannot walk by herself, she always needs assistance, she cannot stand, she cannot hold balance, she cannot dress herself, she constantly needs assistance and help,” said Ariela’s father, Tomer Berkovich.
In July, Berkovich was laid off from a job he held for 11 years. That’s when the couple reached out to close family and friends for financial help.
They launched a GoFundMe page three weeks ago, with the goal of raising $130,000.
“There’s a time limit for that surgery and that’s what brings us to do the fundraising for her, to go public and ask for some help,” said Lorena Berkovich, Ariela’s mother.
The parents said they have been told the surgery is available in Canada, but their daughter’s case would not be reviewed until she is older.
They said other doctors have told them the surgery will have better results if performed before the age of five.
The family of four is planning to move to Israel to begin therapy. Ariela’s surgery is scheduled for March at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
“We will do the surgery one way or another, we will give everything we can to give her a chance in life,” said Tomer.
The couple hopes to return to Calgary within a year.
A high intensity fitness class fundraiser is also planned for Sunday at 4 p.m. at the CKE Community Centre (1015 73 Avenue S.W.).
The class will be by donation, and all proceeds will be donated to the family.
In a statement Alberta Health Services said it cannot comment on the specifics of a particular case, but recognizes the difficult challenges the family is facing and their wish to explore every treatment option for their child.
“Selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery is covered in Alberta when the physician determines that it’s the appropriate treatment for a patient. We rely on medical professionals to determine when surgery or any other treatment is the right course of action, given a patient’s age, health and medical condition,” read a statement.
“We encourage the family to continue working with their physician and referral specialist to determine what is in the best interest of their child.”
Alberta Health provides two sources of funding for Albertans seeking insured medical treatment outside of Canada: reimbursement through the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan or funding through an application to the Out-of-Country Health Services Committee.