I am absolutely delighted but unfortunately it is a bittersweet victory. Women who had the money or who were able to borrow to go to the United States will be reimbursed, but those who suffered and could not afford to go are left behind.
Only women who have had their test strip withdrawn in the United States before December 31, 2020 will be reimbursed.
The Ministry of Health and Social Services estimates that from the start of 2021, three new centers of expertise dedicated to the treatment of complications related to strips will be fully operational in Quebec. Women who will need to have their strip removed will be referred there.
Suburethral slings are medical devices implanted in women to treat urinary incontinence, a problem that affects one in three women to varying degrees after 40 years. It is estimated that in 15% of women, the strips cause complications. The problem is, they weren’t meant to be removed, and so-called radical full removal surgery can cause irreversible damage.
Reimbursement of surgical costs for Quebec women who have had surgery outside Quebec and the creation of centers of expertise were two of the 17 recommendations issued by the Collège des médecins du Québec last June, following a investigation (New window) on the management of drug-related complications in the province.
Another of the College’s recommendations was to
provide for the possibility of an upgrade the skills of Quebec doctors who make full withdrawals. For the moment, according to information provided by the ministry, only a webinar lasting 3 hours has been organized.
I’m sorry, but what I see in my group tells me that Quebec surgeons are not yet able to offer radical removal surgeries as safe as what is offered to us in the United States. be proficient in their field, but they lack practice.
In the Facebook group created by Cynthia Gagné, we find the testimonies of six women who were operated on in Quebec by a doctor considered to be an expert. All are dissatisfied with the results of their surgery. Two of them filed complaints with the College of Physicians.
Since the surgery, I have had constant pain in my groin area. Sitting is killing me. I still have areas that are very painful in the vagina. When I compare myself to the women who have been to the United States, it is heartbreaking to see how I was hurt.
Before my removal surgery, I had pain on my left side. The pain on the left is gone, but now my hip hurts on the right side. It’s like a burn. I also have pain in the buttock, groin and lower back. I am worse off than before the surgery.
The doctor who operated Johanne Ricard and Sophie Gaudreault refused to grant us an interview, but put us in contact with a few patients who were satisfied with their surgery.
The same evening that my bandage was removed, I noticed that I no longer had lower back pain. As soon as I was able to stand up, I noticed that the pain in my hip was gone. For me, it’s huge success that these two pains are gone.
Cynthia Gagné knows each of the 135 women who have gone to the United States for surgery. She says without hesitation that they are satisfied with their surgery.
All the women we spoke to who had had surgery in Quebec and who were dissatisfied with the results of their surgery had the same type of strip: a trans-obturator strip. These are much more difficult to remove. One of the recommendations of the College of Physicians was to stop asking them. Which seems to have been respected.
We have made giant strides. I am happy with what I have accomplished over the past year and a half. I think from now on I will continue to listen to women, support them, document what I see on my Facebook page, but political activism, for me, ends today with this beautiful news, she says.
Since the complications related to the strips were the subject of a first report presenting Cynthia’s fight won to recover her health, on the show Investigation, Radio-Canada, in March 2019, the number of strips put in Quebec dropped drastically.