Girl with CANCER dies waiting for hospital bed despite having a DONER
Friends of girl, 18, with leukemia sign her casket with loving messages in a final goodbye after she died waiting for a hospital bed during a shortage in Canada
- Laura Hillier, 18, died after waiting for a bone marrow transplant during a hospital bed shortage in Canada, despite having willing donors available
- An Ontario hospital said it could only do five transplants a month and there were about 30 people who were waiting to have the procedure done
- At her funeral, friends and family signed her casket with loving messages
- The Hillier family is now fighting in Laura's memory to end 'deadly' wait times for hospital beds in Canada
A girl who died of leukemia was given a final send off after her friends signed her casket with loving messages on January 30.
Laura Hillier got to experience a few normal childhood milestones like graduating high school and getting her senior year book signed before she died on January 20.
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Laura Hillier (pictured), who had leukemia, died after waiting for a bed to become available in a Canadian hospital for a bone marrow transplant
Laura might have experienced a few more milestones if a Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, hospital had been able to accommodate a bone marrow transplant for the young woman.
Numerous donors were a match with Laura and ready to donate, but Hamilton's Juravinski Hospital didn't have enough beds in high-air-pressure rooms for the procedure.
Hospital staff told her they had about 30 patients with potential donors, but the means to only do about five transplants a month.
Laura was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 13.
She had been completely cancer-free for approximately four years after her first battle with AML, and relapsed this past May.
Though Laura was able to achieve remission for a second time, she relapsed again in November 2015.
Dr. Ralph Meyer, Juravinski's vice-president of oncology and palliative care, told Ontario's TheStar.com there are plenty of others facing the same situation as Laura in Canada.
He said donor registries are growing in size, and technological advances allow transplants to safely happen between people who are less of a match for each other are becoming more and more common.
Laura's friends signed her casket in a final good bye at her funeral ten days after she died on January 20
In loving memory: Friends gathered around Laura's signed casket to speak about their experiences with her
'It is crazy to have to be on a wait-list when you have a donor and you are ready to go,' Laura told TheStar.com in July of 2015.
Putting off the surgery meant Laura had to endure her fifth round of painstaking chemotherapy.
After her death in January, her obituary slammed Canada's bed shortage as having 'deadly wait times':
'In Laura's last year with us, she was determined to bring public attention to the problem of deadly wait times for bone marrow transplants in Ontario and across Canada.
'In July 2015, Laura achieved remission for the second time from acute myeloid leukemia and was blessed to have a perfect donor match.
'However, she found out that she would not be able to receive her life-saving transplant for months as there were many waiting ahead of her and not enough resources to handle the demand.'
After her death, the outpouring of love was so great for Laura, her family asked some people to only attend the visitation, rather than the funeral, because they were worried about running out of room.
Friends of the musical theater-loving teen came out in droves, signing the casket in marker, talking about her life and singing songs.
'Though Laura's casket was a beautiful sentiment from her friends and family, Laura's fight, and now our fight, is to change the medical system to end the deadly wait times for patients requiring a bone marrow transplant,' a post on the Hope for Laura Hillier Facebook page said.
'Life is a song...Sing 'til your heart's content': Laura's funeral touched on her love for music and singing
Laura (pictured), who loved musical theater, was first diagnosed with leukemia at age 13 and died at age 18