"This is my heart... It's my choice." - Macleans.ca

“This is my heart… It’s my choice.”

Danny Williams says he had no choice but to travel to U.S. for surgery


“This is my heart, it’s my health, it’s my choice.” On Monday, Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams lashed out against critics, who say that his decision to travel to Florida for heart surgery is a sign of his lack of faith in the Canadian health care system. “Did some checking, of course, and what was ultimately done to me, the surgery I eventually got [minimally invasive mitral valve surgery]…was not offered to me in Canada,” Williams explained in an NTV News interview. Not so, say Canadian surgeons! “It’s his body, it’s his money, hopefully, but don’t tell us the operation cannot be done here. It can be done,” insisted Dr. Arvind Koshal, director of cardiac surgery at Edmonton’s Mazankowski Alberta Health Institute. Koshal added that some of the best mitral valve surgeons practice in Montreal and Toronto, and that wait times for the procedure are relatively short.

Globe and Mail

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“This is my heart… It’s my choice.”

  1. St. Paul's in Vancouver does great work on hearts and if it's critical they do it right away, in my experience. Do Canadians have a problem accessing health services from other provinces? If yes, someone should do something! I wish Danny Williams a speedy recovery.

    • you can cross provincial boundaries with our national health care. I've taken my dad from ontario to BC, to St. Paul's for heart related matters. Was never asked to pay anything except show my health card to the admin staff at St. Paul's.

      A great country we live in and sad sad sad what williams has done showing that he is above the rest of canadians. Whats scares me more is I suspect his provincial govt paid the medical fees involved since it was deemed urgent. Time will tell if provincial $$ went south when it should have gone west to other provinces.

      • Seems like he may have thrown another tantrum and went south to force his surgery. If it wasn't offered to him here and it is available then was it really urgent? He himself says "the surgery I eventually got". I agree with Fred, and add my thought that the guy is another national embarrassment.

        In the US where many have no access to health care, I have seen people diagnose themselves then go to the feed store to buy chicken antibiotics to treat themselves. I've also seen people with money pay for procedures they didn't need.

        • The feed store???? Even illegals here can go to the hospital and get treated. Every hospital has a sign which says "we must treat you whether you can pay or not" Just where in the US did you see this happen?

          • The great state of California. It's so sad when you're burying people who didn't need to die.

          • Like I said earlier even people who are illegally in this country are treated in hospitals whether they have money to pay or not. I've seen it every time I have to go to the ER, so anyone going to a feed store for medications is uninformed or just stupid. Having seen European style healthcare first hand while in my wife's home country, I prefer to keep what I have now.

          • The people were not stupid, they were poor! The local doctor would see them for $50 but some people don't even have that and fear getting a costly prescription if they do go. In the emergency department people are triaged… people with insurance go first, others are left to wait and wait and wait. It's not entirely accessible and it is not a positive experience being poor in a rich country, nor is it a positive experience to see up close how a rich country treats their poor.

          • That's just not true. Insurance makes no difference in who gets seen first. How sick you are determines the order of treatment. I actually live here and have been to the ER more than a few times.

          • Don't waste your time on her, John. She's one of Obama's Media Matters shills, complete with the published talking points, in order of appearance, no less.

  2. Danny Williams has a long history of speaking or acting first, then thinking later. An intellectual giant he is not. Mr Williams rarely considers how his actions or words affect others. What he has done is a selfish act, detrimental to Health care in this country. Whatever procedure he required, I'm sure he could have recieved it in Canada on a timely basis. Maybe not according to his timetable, but then Mr Williams expects people to jump at his command.

    I have to wonder how someone with such consistent bad judgement gets to such a position of influence and power?

    • well said Fred!!

  3. I’m glad to see some reporter(s) actually decided to check if the surgery was indeed offered in Canada. Last night’s National just seemd to take Danny’s word and leave it at that.

  4. There is also the chance that his choice had an unlying motive to get people to dicuss the health care system. Because right now is all about the olympics, which is great for the country in itself but there is an entire country to run…..and certain areas are definately being neglected

  5. danny had surgery, not the premier
    you are a person; you are the premier when at work!
    don ottawa

  6. The type of surgery Williams underwent is available in Canada. Period. His attempts to suggest otherwise are disingenuous at best and downright lying at worst. I can certainly believe that endoscopic mitral valve repair is not available in Newfoundland, but it is absolutely available elsewhere. It is not uncommon for the great unwashed to go to other provinces for procedures – my uncle has travelled from Quebec to Toronto for knee surgery several times.

  7. He had surgery, get over it. It's HIS body, not yours. It is HIS choice, not yours. Since when is it wrong to get yourself help. If he felt more comfortable going south, let him be.

    • The issue is that he should be honest and straightforward about it and clearly state that although the surgery was available to him in Canada, he would not have received it immediately due to the professionally diagnosed severity of his case and thus elected to use his extraordinarily above average financial resources to get immediate treatment. The way he handled it all by not doing that has had a negative effect on support for the crucial system in Canada and as a member of government, he has a responsibility to not knee-cap an important system that is crucial to low income Canadians who would be left without care if the system were replaced with a market-driven profit model as profiteer interests hope it will.

  8. Another Tory who wants you to do as he says and not as he does. It may be your heart and your choice then get of the podium and stop telling the rest of us how our health care should be run.
    Unless this was a highly experimental procedure, which this was not, it could have been preformed here.
    Your heart your choice. My vote my choice and you aren't the one getting it. You don't believe in your own work in handling the health file but you want us to continue believing in you. I think the early sunrise in the east has touched his head. He should have got that checked out their. I understand they have great asylums.

  9. The guy ran scared. In spite of his big mouth and false bravado he did what rich people do. He went where money can buy immediate health care rather than take a chance that he may have to wait a week or two for surgery. I wish we all had his money. Then we’d all never have to wait.

  10. Danny's heart belongs to Newfoundland , there should have been a public referendum to determine where he was to have his surgery.
    Seriously though, saying the surgery is not available in Canada when it is, doesn't help his image.

  11. Heart surgery is avialiable in Canada, but the wait times are sometimes long (depending), and there is a limited number of qulaified surgeons to preform the latest and most advanced surgical proceedures. The fact is all our best and brightest go to the states where they can work with latest technology, and get paid the big bucks

  12. I'm a Canadian living in the U.S. short term (can't wait to move back!) and the conservative media down here is having a field day. My American friends see this as damning evidence against health care and do not want what they see, and Mr. Williams has in their eyes confirmed, as an inferior standard of care.

    • As an American what would you expect us to think about this? I don't know much about your healthcare system, but this makes me think it isn't on par with ours. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've heard stories of long waits to receive care in Canada. This seems to confirm those stories. If you are happy with your current system, that's great, but many of us here don't have problems with the healthcare system in the US and don't want drastic changes. There's always room for improvement but to completely change our system to a single payer system would be a mistake in my opinion.

      • Occasionally there might be longer waits, depending where and when and what for. But no one is suffering or dying because of a few delays to my knowledge.

        My friend in US had to wait a few days before getting x-ray for his broken arm. Here in Canada you get it within hours.

        Also how many people and children in US do not qualify for any health care benefits? I heard millions.

        • I don't know where your friend lives but I've never heard of anyone waiting days for a simple x ray. Most people who don't have health insurance here, don't have it by choice because it's an added expense. This is a big problem since the hospitals are still required to treat them without any payment. I knew a couple that made over 100k between the two of them and did not have insurance by choice.

      • "Maybe I'm wrong, but I've heard stories of long waits to receive care in Canada. This seems to confirm those stories"
        — What it confirms is that there is a rational based triage system in which high priority cases get quick treatment and lower priority cases have longer waits. To me that makes much more sense than "high-income cases get quick treatment and low-income cases get no treatment" (yes… i know there are emergency rooms for them but I doubt they do this type of fancy heart surgery).

  13. Danny Williams donates his salary to charity. YES, he is above the rest of us. Find something else more relevant to moan about!

    • He gets a TAX RECEIPT, not exactly altruistic.

      • Hohoho!
        If he did not get a tax receipt then he would pay tax at about 50% on the salary and then only have half of the amount left to donate to charity.
        The TAX RECEIPT is of no net benefit to the giver.

  14. I have never heard of a person to give his/her salary to charity before. If this is really true, then this man does not owe anyone anything. His decision is totally his own – no expalainiation required. Period!

  15. I agree with the premier, just because he is in the government doesn't mean he has to have the surgery in Canada. It's his body he can choose what's best for him. Good for you Mr. Williams!, all the best with the surgery 8o)

  16. According to some here, not his heart, health or choice. How embarrassing. You should see all the strings these 'true Canadians' start pulling when it's their own family at risk – true queue jumpers. Reminds me of what we used to here about the former eastern block countries.

  17. I like Danny Williams a lot more for trashing our health care system – seriously, it's a joke.

  18. I'm ok with this, it reveals that Canadians believe our system is a joke. The next time the left wing nuts screech about our health care being sacred, I hope Danny boy and his supporters shout them down. Shame on them if they don't.

    • How does it possibly reveal that? A super rich person uses their money to jump the wait for non urgent surgery? It's totally absurd to use a millionaire's actions to say 'this is what all Canadians would do if they could'. Of course! I'm sure if everyone had unlimited money they could all build their own hospitals in the yard of their mansions will a full staff of experts but just because people would do that if they could, it doesn't mean any other system is crap. What do you think the millions and millions of Americans with no insurance or bad insurance (who are bankrupt from a health condition totally out of their control) would do if they had the chance to have coverage like in Canada?

  19. The issue at hand isn't Mr. Williams. The issue is the perception that our health care system in Canada is failing. People/organizations with their own agenda will take this information to misinform the ignorant and undermine Canada's confidence in our health care system. The Americans can do as they please, it really doesn't matter to me as long as we (Canadians) take the time to educate ourselves about the wonderful system we enjoy, and frankly, take for granted. Mr. Williams only mistake was informing us that the surgery was available here and he just chose to have it in the U.S. At the end of the day we have to look beyond the rhetoric and poor journalism to educate ourselves. I for one truly appreciate our health care system in Canada

  20. What are you Canadians going to do when Obama gets his Health Care bill passed?

    • Study it carefully and watch it work looking for successful practices to adopt.

  21. What would Canadians say if he jumped the line in Canada and had it done here? He paid his own way and can dohat he wants he is over 18 or 19 or even 21. As Canadians we would bellyache if he took our spot on the operating table and we will beelyache if he does not.Grow up anada we have the doctors we have the means we just do nmot have the time so when he went out and found a way to not steal time from us lets salute him not chastize him

    • Canadian doctors know how to triage the lineup and I don't see how it is possible to jump it. Would I bellyache if Danny Williams got his surgery before I got mine? I'd assume he was in greater need – that's the way I understand things are done in this country. When a guy uses his salary as a tax write-off he can do what he wants EXCEPT lie about Canada's health care system. If you think it's a joke, you've never been critically ill.

      • Can you believe what the media would have done with this if he went to e.g. Montreal and had the procedure done with no wait time? Irregardless of what the Doctors' advice for urgency, the media would never leave it alone if he was done in Canada before someone else.

  22. The National took Danny William's word without question? My goodness!

    -When has the CBC ever investigated an issue before babbling on about it?
    -And, has the CBC ever cared much about any story that did not have clear propaganda value?

    Both good questions I think, but the CBC is unlikely to spend much time pondering either of them. Not really much of an issue , as very few Canadian ever watch CBC News……………… so who cares? A shame we waste such large amounts of money on the stunned bastards!

  23. Where is your compassion people? Everyone is so quick to criticize yet if faced with similar circumstances you would do whatever you had to in order to protect your health as well. There are much bigger issues to deal with in our country for goodness sake, move on….

  24. This isn't a health care issue, it's a leadership issue.
    "Danny Millions" has provided no leadership to the people of Newfoundland on this issue.

  25. He is a millionaire and as such plays by his own rules. I hope he paid for the procedure with his money and did not stick the Canadian health care system with his US bill!!!

    • Yes, he did pay for it with his own money and yes, he does donate his salary to charity (Google Danny Williams salary charity) and has since the day he was elected.

  26. It's a fight Danny Williams has been in, his entire political career…

    That is, that the Federal govt. downloaded it's debt on the provinces, forcing them to cut budgets to services mandated by Confederation to provincial responsibility, and then encroaching upon those rights by dangling strings in attempt to divide and conquer. An effort to own such interests as Health and Education, for themselves.

    In the intervening years of health cuts… our health care system has been bled to death. Every referral or admission is on an emergency basis. The procedures may still be available in some cases, but a stabalized paitent would never make the front of the queue, let alone someone seeking an elective procedure… the bed space simply does not exist. And, where innovation and/or experimental procedures are concerned, a potential research subject would never get to be refered to the overworked specialist.

    So, it is federal politics that has shut down our health care system by default, to feed their greed for power over us. And, like him or not, Danny – our champion.

    Like the Americans, we deserve a health care system that serves it's people (like we once had). The difference being, they are trying to do something to change it. While we point fingers, wag tounges
    , and yet let it all slide. Later wondering, when our false pride wears off… how come?

    p.s. If you think the feds could be better at health care… do you remember standing outside for your flu shot ?

  27. Well said by the Premier, everyone else shouldn't be so concerned. It's really a personal matter.

  28. There are alot of relationships to consider here. William’s relationships with his cardiologist and primary care physicians, and their relationships to hospital and surgeons. Complicating is the ‘second opinion’ tier of relationships. And then there’s the input of family. If Williams says he wasn’t offered the surgery, who are we to question his assertion? Leave him alone. Our Healthcare system can be hard to navigate and utilize even when needed services are available.

  29. Great! Thank for information, I'm looking for it for a long time,