Tsawwassen resident Kyle McConkey has passed away after battling a rare form of leukemia for the past two years.
The 18-year-old died this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
Earlier this month, the teenager was at the Vancouver hospital preparing for his experimental treatment in Seattle when doctors discovered his cancer had spread to his spine. Given the advancing nature of the disease, doctors deemed that McConkey was no longer eligible for the procedure. They also told his family that there were no other treatment options available.
The U.S. treatment was originally scheduled to begin on December 10, but it was delayed when McConkey became hospitalized from a severe infection.
It involves taking T-cells from white blood cells so that it can be re-engineered in a lab to aggressively fight the cancer. Once this process is complete, McConkey was to return to the Seattle hospital so that the re-engineered T-cells can be placed back into the body.
This was McConkey’s final option as other treatments in Canada have failed. His younger brother provided him with a bone marrow transplant, but the cancer returned. A second transplant also did not produce the desired results.
The treatment in the U.S. cost $250,000, an amount that McConkey’s family could not afford to pay nor was it covered by insurance. The family turned to crowdfunding and ultimately raised a total of $282,124 to cover the cost of the multiple trips to the United States and the expensive treatment.