The Suburban, Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Hearing-impaired youth counting on PQ race

By Joel Goldenberg

Quebec's health insurance board claims Ryan is too old.

Will the contest for a Parti Québécois pres­ident help nine-year-old Ryan Duchoeny hear for the first time?


For months. Ryan's father Frank has been call­ing on the province to pay the $30.000 or $35.000 needed for a cochlear implant that would improve his son's hearing by 35 to 40 per cent.


But both the Quebec health ministry and Quebec's health insurance hoard have refused, claiming Ryan is too old for the treatment to have maximum effect and that he is proficient in sign language.


The story of Ryan's plight ran in The Suburban a month ago. But it became a political issue only after Frank Duchoeny heard that the ministry had approved a breast implant for a 15-year-old for psychological reasons.


Furious, Duchoeny called CJAD, The Gazette ran the breasts-vs. implant story on front page and suddenly the French media were interested. La Presse and Le Journal both gave the story prominent play, as did local French and English television. Picked up by the wire services, the story ran across Canada and in both national dailies.


And that was before Dr. Laura Schlessinger ridiculed Quebec's decision on her nationally syndicated radio show.


"I fell that we put so much pressure on them, that they were going to probably reconsider and change their minds, quietly," said Duchoeny. "It was a gut feeling I, and a couple of people I spoke to, had."

Duchoeny is wondering how Premier Lucien Bouchard's resignation will affect the case.


"Now media attention has moved away from this whole story," Duchoeny said. "It might be good in a way. Medicare might want to resolve this quietly."


In the meantime. Duchoeny is putting together a campaign with the help of the Jewish Community Foundation to raise the needed funds, so that the cochlear implant can he per­formed in nearby Burlington. Vermont for $40.000 U.S.


For more information, contact Frank Duchoeny at .