Why can’t we risk living? asks Abbotsford man

Why can’t the law change to allow a person to take a drug that might save his or her life – even if that drug has not yet been approved

Hanna and Andy Meinen



Andy Meinen of Abbotsford wants to get people thinking about this question: If Canadian law can be changed to allow a suffering person to have an assisted suicide, why can’t the law change to allow a person to take a drug that might save his or her life – even if that drug has not yet been approved for public use?

His wife Hanna has been battling Huntington’s disease, which is steadily diminishing her brain function. There is currently no cure.

Hanna, 39, is losing motor function, and becomes confused about where she is.

“Living with Huntington’s is hell. You’re consumed by it,” Andy says.

There has been a breakthrough. Researchers at the University of Alberta have developed a therapy that not only stops the disease, but reverses many of the effects – in mice.

The problem is that the drug must first undergo clinical trials, and then be approved for human consumption – a process that typically takes seven to 10 years.

Andy wants that fast-tracked.

“We don’t have that time. The alternative is certain death, so why not?”

Hanna knows what’s at stake.

“She understands,” he said. “It has given her hope, whereas before she was suicidal.

“If people are allowed to die, why can’t we risk living?”

The couple has launched an awareness campaign, Hanna’s Ride for Life, touring in an RV with a goal of collecting a million signatures on a petition asking the federal government to grant people the right to have experimental treatment when they have no other medical option.

Hanna was diagnosed in 2005 while the family was living in Mitchell, Ont. In August, they moved to Abbotsford, where Hanna’s family can help her.

“She often needs people around her – she needs a lot of support,” Andy said.

Dr. Simonetta Sipione of the University of Alberta said it is critical her treatment be proven non-toxic to humans during clinical trials.

She is optimistic, because a version of the drug is already in use and she is working to get to clinic trials. It will be a year or two before they are approved, and the trials themselves will take six months to a year. If there are any negative effects from the treatment, the trials are suspended.

“There is a lot of work to be done to prove the drug would be safe,” she said.

She has personal experiences similar to Hanna’s. Her father has a serious form of Parkinson’s disease.

“I would not want him (her father) to have something that would hurt him worse than the disease.”

The treatment would require a tiny pump to be surgically implanted in the brain, and would most likely have to be repeated to remain effective, and it will be expensive.

“There is a good possibility that in spite of the results in animals, it will not work in humans. We have to consider that.”

Andy Meinen will host an information forum about his petition on Friday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Abbotsford Free Reformed Church, 3300 Mt. Lehman Rd.

The attached video is from an interview with CJCS Radio in Stratford, Ontario.

Just Posted

Vancouver Canucks playing pre-season game in Abbotsford

Canucks hosting Ottawa Senators on Monday, Sept. 23

Abbotsford water polo talent earns national gold

16U athletes Sarah Portas and Annika Reinfjell help lead Fraser Valley to first

Harrison Hot Springs to consider single-use plastics ban

Village staff will come back to council with a report on what a possible ban could look like

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Langley’s oldest and last strip bar shuts its doors

The Alder Inn, in operation since 1957, has reportedly been purchased

BREAKING: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

B.C. high school withdraws notices for temporary dress code

Parents previously told the Interior News they felt there was inadequate consultation over the rules

VIDEO: Toronto Raptors announcer credited with calming crowds after shooting

Matt Devlin, the Raptors’ play-by-play announcer since 2008, was praised for preventing panic from spreading

Mini-horse visits residents at Lower Mainland care home

Gunner turned a visit with grandpa into a major event for everyone at the residence

Women sue former Vancouver cop over alleged sexual abuse during pimp case

Two women claim James Fisher caused psychological trauma during the Reza Moazami investigation

First ever Indigenous person to join the RCMP to be honoured in B.C.

Hawk Kelly said becoming a Mountie was his dream job as a kid

Mini pinscher at Maple Ridge SPCA needs spinal surgery

Bane has a painful condition known as Wobbler Syndrome

Deadline for cabinet to decide future of Trans Mountain expansion is today

International Trade Minister Jim Carr described the decision as ‘very significant’

Most Read