Greiving son urges Quebecers to avoid Cuban medical tourism

Still grieving his father's death, Michel St. Louis is urging Quebecers to seek health care at home before considering medical tourism.

Alain Leclerc and Dr. Osvaldo Hector Ardisana have been publicly encouraging Canadians to consider Cuban hospitals for treatment. Whether to avoid long wait times or seek affordable cosmetic surgeries, they appeared on the Andrew Carter Morning Show Tuesday.

St Louis heard about the interview and contacted CJAD to offer his family's tragedy as a warning:

"The whole family was against this operation, but he decided to go anyway" says St. Louis. "It was the worst period of my life." 

St Louis says in 2015 local doctors recommended physiotherapy rather than surgery for his father Yvon St. Louis' sciatic pain, so he turned to Cuban doctors to seek more immediate relief,

Through Health Services International St. Louis found a surgeon and travelled to Cuba for the procedure, where St Louis says he woke up he found himself partially paralysed.

"He got an infection in his spine and then in his lungs and then everything went down," says St Louis. "It was like $10 thousand dollars a week to keep him there so the money was starting to pour on the Cuban doctors." 

St Louis fell into a coma and the family spent another $35 thousand dollars to airlift him back to Canada, a few days later he died, leaving the family devastated and some $95 thousand dollars in debt.

Dr. Osvaldo Hector Ardisana says with any surgery comes risk.

"It could happen anywhere," he says. "In Cuba, Canada, in the States, Europe. When you go to an operating room you're always in danger of several probable complications."

But Michel St Louis says the company is running on a for-profit model, with commission for each Canadian patient they draw to Cuba for treatment, and believes Canadians are better of seeking health-care at home.

"They make you believe everything will go fantastic," he says. "But when thing go wrong, it could go wrong, really wrong."