By DAVID LAZARUS
MONTREAL — On March 5, nine-year-old Ryan Duchoeny is scheduled to
finally get what he’s been longing for and what his father’s been
fighting Quebec health officials for for months: the gift of hearing.
is to receive a cochlear implant at the Fletcher Allen Memorial Health
Care Centre in Burlington, VT.
cost of the surgery will be $36,000.00 US ($54,000.00 Cdn). Half the funds
have been raised to date.
father, Frank Duchoeny, is elated. "I'm thrilled. It’s all became
of the publicity and campaign we put together," Duchoeny, a
computer technician and Chomedey resident, said.
gave a portion of the credit to the Jewish community. Shirley Roll, a
member of Duchoeny’s synagogue in Chomedey who is active at FEDERATION
CJA, learned of Ryan's plight and spearheaded the fund-raising
campaign. Roll also asked local rabbis to bring attention to Ryan’s
situation from their pulpits. In addition, the Canadian Jewish Congress,
Quebec region sent a letter to Health Minister Pauline Marois asking
her to review the dossier.
case, largely through Duchoeny's efforts, made headlines across the
province after a report was published indicating that Quebec Medicare
was paying for breast enlargement surgery on a 15-year-old girl.
was so upset by the news that he called the Gazette. The next day,
Ryan’s picture was splashed on page 1 of the newspaper, and the
household was flooded by media calls.
and other critics, including Liberal health critic Russ Williams, have
slammed Quebec's policy on cochlear implants. Only 40 cochlear implants
are performed annually in the province, compared to hundreds in
Ontario. Also in Quebec, there is a list of 125 families waiting an
average of two years for the surgery. Only one surgeon, Dr. Pierre
Ferron at Quebec City's Hotel-Dieu Hospital - who said that Ryan did
not qualify because of his age and ability to "sign" -
performs the procedure.
the negative publicity, Marois declined to allocate more funds to make
the operation more widely accessible and timely, saying her budget
would not allow it. Duchoeny suspects the real reason is the $35,000.00
each cochlear implant device costs.
said he chose the health centre in Burlington after being referred
there by Advanced Bionics, the company that makes the implant device.
The surgery will cost several thousand dollars less than at the New
York University Medical Centre, where Ryan was also judged a suitable
advantage is that Burlington is only two hours by car from Montreal,
compared to seven hours from New York.
said despite the go-ahead for Ryan's surgery, he has every intention of
pursuing Quebec Medicare for full reimbursement. At this writing, he
was still waiting for a date to appear before a tribunal to appeal
Quebec's refusal to do the surgery.
has also brought the case before the Quebec Human Rights Commission,
alleging discrimination against his son.
said if he does get reimbursed by Quebec for the surgery, a11 the funds
raised by the Jewish Community Foundation would be reserved for the
next person in need of a cochlear implant.