Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Canadian with MS dies after having medical procedure in Costa Rica

From CBC News in Canada:

Some Canadians who've left the country for a controversial multiple sclerosis treatment remain frustrated by what they consider a lack of medical support after an Ontario man died following the procedure.

CBC News reported Nov. 18 that Mahir Mostic (pictured), 35, of St. Catharines died on Oct. 19, one day after doctors in Costa Rica tried to dissolve a blood-clot complication following the vein-opening procedure.

He first went to the Central American country in June to have a mesh stent inserted to prop open a vein in his neck in hopes it would relieve symptoms of his fast-moving form of MS.

But after Mostic returned to Canada, his MS became worse and a blood clot formed around the stent.

Dr. Marcial Fallas of Clinica Biblica in San Jose, who cared for Mostic both times, thinks the powerful medication used to dissolve the clot triggered internal bleeding.

Fallas said he has performed the procedure 300 times, but Mostic's was the only time he used a stent. On Friday, Fallas said he wouldn't try a stent again unless it is proven to work specifically in neck veins.

Stents are approved for use in arteries, not veins.

When Mostic was in Costa Rica, Edmonton resident Betty Taylor was in Bulgaria getting a stent to open up her left jugular vein.

Taylor said she felt better after the procedure but that the effects didn't last and she's having trouble walking again.

Taylor said she was unable to get a referral to a Canadian specialist for the procedure and went abroad aware of the risks she faced.

"I was told that no, I would not get a referral because the doctor would be thrown in jail," Taylor said.

Like Mostic, Taylor's stent is now blocked. Over the weekend, she's going to the U.S. to have the vein opened again.

In offering her condolences to Mostic's friends and family, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq noted seven Canadian trials are underway to determine whether blocked veins are linked to MS.

"How can a doctor know what they're looking for, or how to treat without that information or the scientific evidence that is required to move forward?" Aglukkaq asked reporters in Ottawa.

Mostic's death points to the need for clinical trials in Canada and a registry of people who've had the treatment, said Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan.

Last month, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced $5 million in funding for clinical trials in the province that aim to answer whether the procedure is safe and if it works.

While Wall did not endorse the surgery, nor did he dismiss the hopes of MS patients seeking it.

"We deserve to lead in finding them some answers either way on it," Wall said.