CONCORD, CA – October 10, 2007 – Canadian born Kevin Stewart, now a resident of the Florida Keys is alive and very well today because of his trip to India for a liver transplant, arranged and expedited by global healthcare company, WorldMed Assist.
One year ago, Stewart’s liver started to fail, and by February, he had to endure hospital visits every two weeks to have his belly drained of fluids his liver would no longer process. His doctor in Florida said that without a liver transplant, he would die. Worse yet, there was at least a four-month wait—and perhaps up to a year– for a transplant, and no one was sure he had even four months. His next major shock: He also was told a transplant would cost about $350,000, which he said “would have wiped me out.”
Stewart, a retired owner of a landscaping business in the Florida Keys, had no health insurance, and had not stowed away enough money for a contingency like a liver transplant.
Stewart now has a newly transplanted liver, courtesy of his sister, Jo-Ann Hall of Ottawa, Canada and his medical team at Apollo Hospital in Delhi, India, where the procedure was performed. “The entire procedure was very professional and smooth,” Stewart said. “This is in no small part thanks to Wouter Hoeberecht’s (WorldMed Assist CEO) incredible research and coordination.”
The total cost of surgery and hospitalization both for Stewart and Hall: $55,000—about one seventh what it would have cost in the U.S.
“Having WorldMed Assist coordinate all the details for my transplant in India – with top-notch doctors in a great hospital – saved me so much money that I flew my girlfriend and Jo-Ann’s husband to India to help us recuperate—and still saved $275,000,” Stewart said. . “The surgery has given me back a life I thought was lost.”
That life looked pretty bleak when he first got his diagnosis and the price tag.
“In early June, I hit the Internet, and eventually landed on the term Medical Tourism. I searched several firms, saying, ‘I need a liver transplant.’ Several responded, but I kept coming back to WorldMed Assist,” Stewart said. “The site was easy to use, and the communication with Wouter was very open and honest about my options and the risks.”
Hoeberechts readily admits he was initially reluctant to take Kevin on as a patient. “Live liver transplants are extremely risky, no matter where in the world they’re done,” Hoeberechts said. “Our staff researched options and gathered references. I knew of Doctor Subhash Gupta at Apollo Hospital, in Delhi, India, who became our top choice. By the time I put Kevin in touch with him, Dr. Gupta had performed 120 liver transplants, and his patients’ long-term survival record surpasses the Mayo Clinic’s.”
When WorldMed Assist gave Stewart detailed information on Dr. Gupta and Apollo, Hoeberechts urged him to seek additional opinions from his own medical team. Once Stewart committed to have WorldMed Assist help him get the transplant, and gave thumbs up to Dr. Gupta, Hoeberechts’ firm transferred his medical records to India, and set up phone consultations between both patients and their surgeon to answer questions and discuss medical details.
Stewart and Hall were impressed at how quickly WorldMed Assist was able to seal the arrangements for surgery, travel and lodging. “By late June, they had me on my way to India, and my surgery was finished on July 11. Pretty amazing. My surgeon told me I was the first American to have a liver transplant in India.”
During Stewart’s recovery, Dr. Gupta assigned two nurses per shift, specially trained in handling transplant patients, to look after him. Both Hall and Stewart were so awed by the quality of care and constant attention that they dubbed their medical support staff the Dream Team.
While recovering, Hall wrote a thank you note to her Dream Team. “Your nurses, the ICU nurses in particular, were so warm, loving and helpful. Each and every one of them took an interest in the two of us and made sure we had everything we needed. When I was transferred to a normal room some of them came to visit me before or after their shift just to see how I was doing. Now when I go to visit Kevin as an outpatient, they all welcome me with open arms. Your nurses are #1 and deserve all of the praise I can give.”
Hall and Stewart consider Hoeberechts an important part of the dream team. “We didn’t have to worry for a minute throughout this 20,000 mile journey. Wouter handled all the paperwork before we got here, and was in touch with us and our medical team several times a day while we were in ICU,” said Stewart. “He relayed information home on our progress. He made sure we were receiving all the care and attention we needed at every step of the way.”
They not only had a strong advocate working on their behalf at home, they also had plenty of handholding from their team in India. “This was a very emotional time for both of us,” said Stewart 14 days after surgery. “There was always someone there to help pull us back up when we were down. I know that the care from every corner of Apollo really helped speed up our recovery. Jo-Ann is ready to leave today, which is way ahead of schedule.”
Stewart returned to Florida on August 24, 2006 and is now back into the full swing of his home routine. He has just passed the critical three month juncture, and though still faces the risk of his body rejecting the new liver, he’s feeling great and loves the new lease on life his dream team has given him.
“If you are seriously ill and uninsured, you’ve got to find first-class medical care at a price that won’t kill you,” Kevin said. “I’m glad companies like WorldMed Assist can help people like me find great hospitals and great doctors in other parts of the world. I wouldn’t think twice about going back to India if I ever need any other major surgery.”
Experts in medical tourism and a proud member of the Medical Tourism Association, WorldMed Assist’s mission (www.worldmedassist.com) is to improve lives by helping patients receive high quality medical treatment abroad at affordable prices. For more information, visit www.WorldMedAssist.com.