Heartfelt appeal from Canadian Armenian archbishop
Published: Thursday May 10, 2012
I want to share with you a humanitarian issue that could happen to any of us, which has moved me deeply. One of our faithful, Sevan Hajinian of Toronto, a 50-year old mother of two daughters, aged 14 and 16, has an extremely painful, degenerative spinal condition which, if not treated, will leave her paralyzed very soon. Her condition is the result of complications during surgery she underwent in 1999 here in Toronto.
A world renowned spine revision surgeon in New York, whose expertise, coupled with technology and experience, is key to providing the required surgery, which is not available in Ontario. Through a specific procedure, the surgery in New York will be able to halt the degeneration and relieve her condition.
This situation has dragged on for years, so that the prognosis is now catastrophic. If she does not get the necessary surgery in New York, not only will she become a paraplegic, she will also have kidney and liver failure because of the morphine-based pain-killers she is forced to take to control the pain.
She has already undergone every sort of treatment, both traditional and experimental (pain clinic, psychological evaluation, morphine and many other pain medications, including the Inthrathecal Pump, which caused a dangerous morphine overdose). Unfortunately, none of these treatments have helped.
While the surgery is available out of province, Ontario Health Insurance Plan refuses to pay for her treatment, because official policy is to reduce costs wherever possible, and the cost of the surgery and after-surgery treatment is approximately $200,000. Regrettably, an official appeal to the Ontario Health Services Appeal and Review Board was denied. Some seven hundred concerned Ontarians signed an electronic petition to the Minister of Health and the Premier of Ontario, asking them to intervene and help end Sevan's agony. Unfortunately, these attempts failed because of the current cost-cutting policy, despite the doctor's testimony at the Appeal Board hearing, stating, "I strongly recommend this surgery in a relative emergency to prevent further damages including the rise of cauda-equina syndrome and/or paraplegia."
Sevan's family has exhausted all of its financial resources and are at the end of their rope. As if this state of affairs was not bad enough, her husband, Harout, a welder by trade, under the tremendous stress of the situation, suffered a stroke.
We must not stand by while a fellow human being endures such physical pain and the anxiety about the uncertainty of her future and that of her family, with no hope in sight.
Therefore, I am asking you to take up this humanitarian case. I am appealing to you to help me raise the funds necessary to have the surgery that will relieve Sevan's suffering, and that of her family. Our Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in Toronto has adopted Sevan's case by establishing a humanitarian fund, and has started fundraising. The initial response has been very encouraging, and we have already collected $21,450.00. Our goal is to cover the cost of approximately $200,000 for the surgery in New York by the end of March, because of the urgency of the situation.
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " Acts 20:35
I urge you to make a generous donation now, payable to:
HTAC (Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church) Humanitarian Fund / Sevan Hajinian
920 Progress Avenue
Toronto, ON M1G 3T5
An official tax-deductible receipt will be issued for the donations.
Bishop Bagrat Galstanian
Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada