How does medical care in Mexico compare to the U.S. and Canada? Find out here as I relate first hand experience of my father coming down from Vancouver, Canada for hip replacement surgery.
Eight o'clock Sunday evening. I make my regular Skype call to my parents. “How are things?”, I ask. “Oh son, things are bad.” my dad tells me. “My hip is so bad now it is bone on bone! All the cartilage is gone. I can hardly walk! I need a hip replacement.”
“Well, How soon can you get surgery?”, I ask.
“The wait time in British Columbia is 11 months and I have been trying to get on it for 6 months already! I still have to wait another 2 months just to see the specialist!”
OMG. I think. This is terrible. “What can be done?” I ask.
“I want to come to Mexico and get a hip replacement.” my dad tells me.
Wow! This comes as a surprise but I get to work and start an internet search for doctors in Guadalajara that do hip replacements as well as start talking to friends and asking for recommendations on web boards. By the end of the week, I have accumulated a massive amount of information and have narrowed it down to two doctors. I ask for testimonials from the doctors and when both receive raving reviews from former clients, I finally just end up picking one.
Within two weeks of my dad's bombshell, I have everything arranged and my dad has already arrived in Ajijic, Lake Chapala.
The drive in to Guadalajara hospital Puerta de Hierro takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. With the GPS guiding me it is a breeze. We arrive at the hospital and I leave the car with the valet parking service and then inform our medical concierge, Lori, of our arrival. She greets us downstairs with a wheelchair for my dad and we immediately start with all the pre-ops. Urine and blood, cardiologist, and x-rays of both hips. One and one half hours later we are done. Total costs for all the pre-op exams comes to 3530 pesos ($190 USD). The hospital is clean and efficient and we have as much time as we need with all the technicians and doctors to discuss anything we want. Lori answers all our questions and leaves us at the hospital restaurant for a late lunch. After an excellent and inexpensive lunch ($10 USD for the two of us) we get the valet to bring us the car and in an hour and ten minutes are back in Ajijic.
We were hoping to have surgery a week after the pre-ops but it turns out my dad's heart is not good. The cardiologist already noted earlier that one of his heart chambers was in fibrillation. Upon our meeting with the doctor the day before surgery he suggested strongly that we find out how bad it is by taking an electrocardiogram. He called one in for us and within 2 ½ hours, at 7:30 in the evening, my dad was getting his heart checked. The results were conclusive and not good. Our doctor called us at 9 the next morning and informed us that one chamber of my dad's heart was in constant fibrillation. This would make him a high risk candidate for blood clot. We had to decide as to whether we wanted to continue with the surgery or not. A 3 hour family discussion ensued and my dad chose to continue. I informed the doctor and he immediately prescribed a blood thinner to be taken before surgery which was now postponed 6 days. I received the name of the drug by email and purchased it at the local pharmacy. The drug was in syringes and need to be injected subcutaneously into the belly. Neither my mom or myself wanted to do it without any experience so a nurse was arranged to come to our rental to give the injection. Cost of the nurse to make a house call was only 200 pesos.
Surgery day. We are all tense with worry. Once arriving at the hospital we are greeted by our concierge, Lori, along with a nurse and wheelchair. Lori whisks us through the paperwork part of the procedure and into my dad's private room where we ask all of our questions that we still have. The room is large and very much like a hotel room right down to complimentary tooth brush and tooth paste. Nurses, anesthesiologists and trainee doctors all come through one after another asking their questions and hooking up IV's. Even the Surgeon comes in and shakes our hands to say hello before going off to make final preparations. Surgery is scheduled for 1 pm and by 12:40 we say our goodbyes and he is taken off to pre-op. The dreadful waiting begins and by 3:00 we are greeted by Lori with great news of a successful operation. By 5 pm we see my dad again when he is returned to his room and we chat for half an hour. He is great spirits and talks and talks. Various doctors come and go checking blood pressure, urine output, hip drain, IV, etc. Lori joins us at 6;30 and tells us that since he is a high risk patient due to his age and heart condition, that she has arranged for a private nurse to stay the night. My mom decides she can't leave and remains with the night nurse while I go to the rented apartment for some much need sleep. I arrive the next morning at 7:30 as the night nurse goes off duty. It turns out it was a bit of a sleepless night but all is well. This morning my dad takes his first pain free steps in over 4 years and is euphoric! He can't stop talking about how good he feels and how he is completely free from pain. The coming days shows remarkable improvement even before the first therapy session. With a walker he is able to walk for many minutes at at time totally pain free! It looks like he's lost 20 years!
The Final Chapter
We stayed in Guadalajara an extra week due to the high risk of blood clot. Therapy began 5 days after surgery and he was able to complete 8 sessions in total before he had to fly back home. At the end of the eight sessions my dad could walk without a cane and could lift his leg with 3 lb weights.
For those of you stuck in the Canadian Health Care System or looking at outrageous fees in the U.S., you should consider coming down to Mexico and getting your procedures done. The hospitals are excellent, clean and efficient. Costs are less than half of procedures done in the U.S. and for Canadians, you'll get the procedure done right away. No more waiting! Our total bill for the hospital including the pre-op exams came to $12,690 USD, which included 10 post operative therapy sessions, a walker and raised toilet seat.
For anyone wanting more information about my experience, you may contact me through this website and I will be happy to share with you more of my father's Mexican Health Care experience.
Plus, for additional information on Health Care in Mexico, check out my blog on Health Care options.
Thank you for reading.