In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.As a Canadian, Williams was entitled to health care in Canada, but he chose to go to Miami to get the treatment he wanted. He could not only afford to do so but he had the luxury of being able to choose the specific treatment. The treatment he opted for was a minimally invasive treatment that didn't involve cracking his chest, that would have resulted in a much longer rehabilitation and recovery time. Was that procedure not available in Canada? Was there a waiting list for the procedure in Canada that he couldn't deal with?
"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.
"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."
The 60-year-old Williams said doctors detected a heart murmur last spring and told him that one of his heart valves wasn't closing properly, creating a leakage.
He said he was told at the time that the problem was "moderate" and that he should come back for a checkup in six months.
Eight months later, in December, his doctors told him the problem had become severe and urged him to get his valve repaired immediately or risk heart failure, he said.
His doctors in Canada presented him with two options - a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would've required breaking bones, he said.
He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.
There are still many questions left to be answered about this, but it doesn't look good for Williams to crow about the competency of the Canadian medical system when he flies to the US to get a treatment that wasn't apparently offered in his part of Canada.