Loan allows family to move ahead with life-saving surgery

Saanich girl needs surgery for collapsed neck and curvature of the spine

Nine-year-old Madeleine Murray is in halo traction ahead of her spinal fusion surgery at the Paley Institute in Florida.

Nine-year-old Madeleine Murray is in halo traction ahead of her spinal fusion surgery at the Paley Institute in Florida.

A last-minute loan has allowed the Murray family to go ahead with a life-altering surgery to remedy a collapsed neck and curvature of the spine for nine-year-old Madeleine.

Despite a highly successful campaign that raised $150,000 of the $400,000 they’ll need to cover the price of two surgeries and rehabilitation at the Paley Institute in Florida, the Murray family was well short of the funds needed just days before Madeleine was scheduled for her second surgery.

Luckily, a family friend stepped in with a $125,000 loan to cover the costs, said Saanich’s Dan Murray, who rejoined his wife Laura and daughter Madeleine in Palm Beach this week.

Madeleine underwent surgery last week and despite a setback the following day is now recovering, Murray said.

“Madeleine was supposed to go for her second surgery [Nov. 14] but [wasn’t] able to go because we [were] shy of about $125,000 [Canadian],” Murray said in a series of emails. “We had to pay for the hardware that Madeleine needed before the hospital will allow her spot to be booked. She has a long way to go but she is improving daily.”

The surgery is designed to fuse part of Madeleine’s spine to prevent any further curvature of the spine that is occurring. Madeleine has lived with arthrogryposis since she was born. However, the condition commonly known as clubfoot has presented a different set of problems for Madeleine. She’s had multiple surgeries on her legs and hips since birth, some successful, and some not.

This time last year she had extendable rods inserted her neck, but her neck muscles grew weak and the rods were unable to correct the curvature of her spine. Instead, her neck collapsed. It created a rare situation with her chin resting on her chest from June of this year until she went to Florida in early October.

At that point, the Murrays had lost faith in the B.C. health care system with regards to Madeleine’s rare condition. They uncovered a specialist in Florida, Dr. David Feldman, who assured them he had worked successfully with youths in this condition before.

In light of the money shortfall and the critical timing of the surgery (Madeleine has been in halo traction since she arrived there in early October and now needs to have the halos removed), Feldman waved a substantial portion of his fee to make the surgery happen, Murray said.

“They have discounted her second surgery and I think Dr. Feldman has greatly reduced his part as well.  The humanitarian side down here for her has been incredible. [But] time has caught up to [Madeleine]. She has to go to the next step.”


There has been no MSP funding to date, though Murray hasn’t lost hope on that front either. In the meantime the family’s Gofundme page ( is currently at $321,000, which includes $125,000 from the bridge loan.