One More Time! - Canadian Danny Williams And His Heart

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Posted on : 2/23/2010 10:57:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Several more stories surfaced today regarding Newfoundland's Premier, Danny Williams, and his visit with us in the states to have a bit of repair work done on a leaky heart valve.  From what I've read, no point in adding links - Google is your friend, the procedure Mr. Williams required was not available in Newfoundland, but was available elsewhere in Canada; specifically Toronto and Quebec.  At least one story I read indicates that his doctors recommended coming to the states for whatever he had done.


"The vast majority of heart procedures are available all across Canada, in most centres," says Dr. Christopher Feindel, a cardiac surgeon at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the University Health Network in Toronto. That would include the "whole gamut" of heart surgery, from coronary bypass, to all forms of valve procedures, heart transplants and operations to restore abnormal muscle inside the heart.

While some of the more specialized procedures are concentrated in larger centres, "for the most part as far as I can tell everything is available in Canada," Feindel said.

The one significant exception would be surgery to the thoracic aorta, the giant blood vessel that carries blood that's pumped out of the heart to other organs. If a person develops a swelling or aneurysm, an abnormal bulging, in the thoracic aorta, and needs surgery to open the chest cavity, "that's a very extensive operation," Feindel said.

The Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, "has tremendous expertise in this. They're doing almost one or two of these cases a day, whereas in Ontario we might get two or three cases a year," Feindel said.
It's the only procedure Feindel has come across "that we would specifically refer to the states."

There was a least a 4 to 6 week delay before the surgery was performed at a Florida hospital.  Again, my bit of research has yet to yield anything definitive regarding delays in Canada for heart surgery in general.  A couple of research papers seem to suggest that delays of over a month...and in the case of one paper, several months...are common for patients in need of heart [bypass] surgery.  But again, he scheduled his procedure 4 to 6 weeks after being diagnosed by his local physicians.

On the one hand, Canadian critics of Canada's health care system complain about delays.  On the other hand, the people running their system say almost uniformly that there is not problem.

Perhaps this isn't the best example of problems in their health care system.  It certainly isn't a good enough example to justify most of the crowing being done by the right over the last week or two.

My larger point remains.  That not only immediate treatment, but also future medical developments and inventions are disproportionately the province of American medical researchers.  Without our modestly free market system to pay for successive generations of medical developments, where will the rest of the world turn when they need the next cure, the next drug, or the next procedure?  What happens to them and their heirs if we decide to follow their lead down the road of nationalized health care systems?

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