Paralyzed Peterborough woman raising funds to get home

An Ontario woman who was recently paralyzed during a car crash in British Columbia wants to return home to recover but OHIP doesn’t cover the exorbitant cost of transporting her back to Peterborough.

Christine Connelly, 25, was in a serious collision in B.C. on Sept. 9 and suffered spinal damage that has left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Connelly and her boyfriend Ryan Smith were driving when the wheels hit a patch of gravel, causing the car to roll.
Connelly was ejected from the vehicle.

She was taken to Royal Alexandria Hospital in Edmonton, where she remains.

The young woman and her boyfriend were hoping to head home for her treatment. But they found out that OHIP would not cover the $8,000 for transportation. Neither they nor their families can afford it.

It is a fact that has come as a shock to everyone.

“It’s been quite the experience. I had no idea. A lot of this we were just unprepared for,” Ryan’s mother Sharon told CityNews. “Most people you speak with they just assume she would be flown home.”

Health minister Deb Matthews confirmed Connelly’s transportation would not be covered.

“I really urge people to purchase insurance, if they don’t already have it, to cover any transportation that might be required. OHIP will cover the medical procedures. It does not cover transportation,” she said.

Because of her injury, Connelly would have to travel with a nurse and the size of her wheelchair would require her to be seated in first class.

Family members say it is important for Christine to get home.

“All of her family and her support system is there so she really needs to go home,” Ryan’s mother said.

The Global Angel Charitable Organization has stepped in to try to help Christine raise the money. So far it has helped raise $5,280.

Connelly said the emails and messages of support from friends and strangers have helped her.

“The outpouring of support is what keeps me smiling and waking up with hope and fight in me every single day.”

But she said not having family around is hard for both her and her boyfriend.

“It’s been difficult. We had family here for the first couple weeks, which was great obviously. When they left it took a toll. There’s good days and bad days,” she said.

The family is hoping to get her home for Thanksgiving.

Connelly says she wants to eventually be transferred to Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Lyndhurst Division which specializes in spinal cord injury and disease.

The facility says they have a bed available for her as of Tuesday.

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