Local/State

Family of ill child battles to stay in hotel

Friday, January 04, 2013

Kim Harris and her 5-year-old daughter Victoria are currently staying at a Durham hotel while the girl gets cancer treatment at Duke.

"Victoria has been diagnosed with a tumor in her left temporal lobe of her brain, and her latest MRI in November showed a lot of growth," Harris explained.

A neurosurgeon at Duke recommended that the tumor be removed, scheduling surgery for the end of this month. To be closer to the best treatment available, the family moved from Charlotte and has spent five months at an extended-stay Days Inn on Hillsborough Road.

Harris told ABC11 there had been no problems until last weekend.

"We'd run Victoria up to the dining room, and she had a mild seizure in the dining room," said Harris.

But Harris said that seizure, and the twitching that accompanies Victoria's condition, apparently upset some of the staff. She alleges she was asked to keep the girl out of the common areas and to eventually leave the hotel altogether.

"They informed us because of the way Victoria is - and her condition - that they no longer wanted Victoria in the lobby. They no longer wanted me on the computer up there. And, when her procedure takes place, it would be better for us to find someplace else to stay," said Harris.

But the family didn't want to go, as the hotel is close to Duke, a bus that takes them there stops right in front, and the pharmacy they're using is right across the street.

"They've got $6,000 of my money and now they want us to go because they're saying my daughter is some kind of a freak," said Harris. "She's just a sick child with a tumor that needs help."

But when ABC11 cameras showed up Friday, things took a turn for the family.

A representative with Durham's fair housing office also showed up and served the hotel with papers. Those papers claimed the hotel was discriminating against the family due to the child's handicap, which is illegal.

After that meeting, hotel staff reportedly agreed to let the family stay and granted Victoria access to all public areas.

A hotel employee told ABC11 the family is allowed to stay and went on to say the family had never been asked to leave in the first place.

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durham county, local/state, caitlin knute
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