Anorexia treatment for Calgary teen costing family $40K per month

A former Calgarian says she had to send her teenage daughter to Portugal to get the treatment she needs for a severe eating disorder.

When she got to Portugal, Savannah weighed just 80 to 85 pounds, her mother says. (Sandy Henry)
Sandy Henry's daughter Savannah was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 11.

With no residential treatment program available in Calgary, the family struggled to find appropriate care.

They tried a private clinic in the U.S. and even moved to B.C. to access a residential program there.

Finally last September, they sent Savannah, who is now 17, to the Cegonha Retreat Clinic, a private facility in Alvor, Portugal.

"She weighed about 80 to 85 pounds when we got to Portugal," said Henry.

"She's five foot nine and a half. So she did not look great, she'd have to stop when she was walking and sit down," her mother told CBC News.

Her mother says Savannah's health has improved and she has begun to put on weight since she began treatment in Portugal last year. (Sandy Henry)
The treatment in Portugal costs about $40,000 per month, Henry says.

To help cover that cost, the family is holding a fundraiser in Calgary on Friday night at Nicastro's Public House at 2820 Centre Street N.E.
There will be entertainment, a silent auction and a 50/50 draw. Tickets are $25 and all proceeds will go directly to the expenses that stem from treatment at the clinic, Henry says.
Henry says the whole experience has been devastating.

"Where do you go? We kept getting roadblocks," she said.

"Either she wasn't sick enough or she was not old enough. And so it's just mind-blowing."

Adele Fox, a registered psychologist in Calgary specializing in eating disorders, says the lack of treatment options in Canada has forced her to suggest to some clients to look for help in the U.S.

"We need to have another option for different population groups, for different ages, for different types of eating disorders," she said.

Savannah has now begun to gain weight and her health is improving, Henry says. She will likely stay at the clinic in Portugal for another five months.