Dangerous medical journeys: wounds that open for three weeks

A Quebec woman who underwent surgery in Tunisia in 2019 had stitches hours before her flight home as her wounds kept reopening for three weeks.

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Sylvie Thivierge, 60, underwent a tummy tuck and breast augmentation in Tunisia in 2019. But medical tourism was not her first choice.

Ten years after the obesity operation and 100 kilos lighter, she had a significant amount of excess skin, especially on her stomach. After years of requests from the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ), she was finally eligible for reimbursed surgeries in 2019.

“I was super happy, I jumped 10 feet in the air,” she recalls.

But the joy was short-lived. Even before greeting her, her assigned Montreal surgeon told her to forget her expectations and that she was going to lose her navel.

And from the beginning of the consultation, she told him she could do better if she visited privately, which costs $12,000.

Twice cheaper

Not having the funds, she turned to travel agency Medcare Vacances and Tunisia as she knew several friends who had gone abroad. It was half price too.

Initially impressed with the cleanliness of the place and the staff who treated her with little onions, she quickly became disillusioned. About three days after the operation, her stomach opened up again.

Her surgeon stitched her up in her office.

“It was traumatic,” she says, adding that nothing seemed sterile to her.

But back at the hotel the sores reopened, she was the size of a football on her stomach.

She found herself in a pool of blood, standing terrified in the bathtub before being rushed to the hospital.

Mme Thivierge says she had stitches about every other day and was assured “everything was fine” until she left.

Sylvie Thivierge cried all the tears of her body in Tunisia. But his nightmare didn’t end there.

nightmare nOh 2

When she returned to Quebec, she waited more than 10 hours in the Saint-Eustache emergency room before being rushed to the hospital.

She had a “bag of pus” in her abdomen.

The doctors condemned her, pushed her and called her “stupid” for going to Tunisia. No hospital would operate on him, she said.

Finally, she says a surgeon from Saint-Jérôme told her he would do it because of his Hippocratic Oath, otherwise he wouldn’t have lifted a finger.

“The system here isn’t for everyone, although I did have a hand that said it was free,” breathes Mme Thivierge. She recently sought advice here about her hamstrings, which were also reimbursed by the RAMQ, and again the doctor would have told her to go private or she would have refused to operate on her.

The agency Medcare Vacances did not call back The newspaper.

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