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Quebec opts to keep child deaf


by GEORGE MADDUX

Eight-year-old Ryan Duchoeny, a deaf child from Chomedey, Laval has been dreaming of getting a cochlear implant to help him hear. But not all dreams come true, as a doctor for the Régie de l'assurance maladie has deemed him too old and proficient in sign language to be eligible for the procedure.

"In June, an expert from the NYU Medical Centre said that Ryan would derive benefit from the implant," says Frank Duchoeny, Ryan's father. "The Toronto Hospital for Sick Children also said he'd benefit but they said they couldn't do the operation unless Quebec agrees to pay for it."

Duchoeny argues that his son actually fits the
RAMQ's criteria for eligibility for the hearing device, which he cites as: "Profound sensatory neural loss; aged 18 months or older; receives no use from hearing aids; no medical contradictions and high motivation and normal expectations." Each year, the RAMQ pays for 40 of the $35,000 procedures. Sixty approved candidates are currently on the 18-month waiting list, while another 60 potential candidates are waiting to be evaluated for eligibility.

"It's all a matter of money. They don't want to increase the budget," says the senior Duchoeny. "[Provincial Health Minister Pauline] Marois could pay for lots of implants with what she spent on her silent toilets. I have plenty of literature showing older kids benefit from this operation." A petition to support Ryan's cause can be signed at http://www.duchoeny.com .

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