Canadian premier defends U.S. surgery

Feb. 23, 2010 at 7:59 AM
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ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Canadian cardiologists say they don't understand Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams' decision to have heart surgery in Miami.

In an interview taped with Newfoundland's NTV news channel from his condo in Sarasota, Fla., the 60-year-old premier said his doctors recommended he have mitral valve repair done at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, the QMI Agency reported Tuesday.

Williams said his staff was concerned about the fall-out from going outside of Canada's universal healthcare system.

"I just said, 'Look, our communications plan here is going to be quite simple: This is my heart, it's my health and it's my choice'," Williams told NTV. "I had to leave the province because it was recommended to me by my own doctors that for this particular type of surgery I should leave the province."

However, cardiologist Asim Cheema, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, told QMI the minimally invasive mitral valve repair is considered a routine procedure regularly done in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. The Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal uses robots to repair mitral valves, the Globe and Mail reported.

Paying for the surgery was apparently not an issue for Williams, who donates his premier's salary to charity.

He is expected to return to work next month, his office said.

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