Manitoba paramedic has spine surgery in Germany, avoiding long wait


Patrick McMullan still has limited mobility, but the 27-year-old paramedic is happy to go out with his dogs.

In June, he injured his back at work and knew at once the injury would affect his ability to work.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in a position where I had to do an awkward lift and as soon as I performed the lift I immediately knew something was wrong with my back. My legs went numb. There was a lot of pain ”, he said CTV News Monday.

McMullan returned to Winnipeg two weeks ago from a trip to Germany where he underwent spinal implant surgery.

He decided to look for other options after learning that his treatment options in Canada would be either disc replacement or spinal fusion.

“Once I got the MRI and just talked with other people about my plan and wait time here in Manitoba, I knew staying in Manitoba was wrong. ‘get them to be able to return to work on the ambulance,’ he said.

The wait time in Manitoba for a drive replacement, he was told, could have been three to five years.

“At that time, I was also told that my symptoms could get worse and that I could develop permanent damage., basically it was like time was passing ”, said McMullan.

It was then that he began to research other surgical options in other countries and see what other technologies were available.

He landed at a spine clinic in Germany and sent in his information.

“We received a plan the next day,” said McMullan. “They had everything planned, the schedule, the price, everything was so well organized and we just had to say yes or no.”

The surgery was $ 50,000. With the help of a community fundraiser, the Ste. Agathe resident was able to cover most of the bill andbook surgery for September 30, 2021.

During his wait, McMullan said his pain had intensified, he could no longer feel his legs and had lost control of his bladder. He also needed help getting out of bed and getting dressed.

“The last two weeks before I left for Germany, I was pretty much stuck in a walker or a Wheelchair, ” he said.

Despite the cost McMullan said he would have gone all the way in any event, and thanks to his great neighbors who donated to fundraising, he is able to cover other collection costs.

Workers’ comp, my insurance, none of that covers going out of the country. This is all interrupted as soon as you decide to seek health care in another country, ”he said.

Always, McMullan said going to Germany for the procedure was worth it as it was the best medical experience he has ever had and the results have been remarkable.

“I have to pinch myself every morning because I can’t believe I had spine surgery a month ago and I’m walking and I’m already on my feet,” he said.

“If you are not comfortable with what you wait will be in Manitoba, there are certainly other options.

For the next three month hsays he has to take it slow, so it’s still three months physio and exercise before you can return to work on the truck.

“I hope I can get back to work on the ambulance by April, which is much, much sooner than it would have been if I had stayed in Manitoba.

McMullan wanted to be clear that her problem here in Canada was not with any healthcare worker.

“It’s over the top, it’s the money we’re given, you know?” We don’t have the capacity to provide the care that we should be providing to patients, ”he said.

“All the healthcare workers I have had to deal with with were absolutely amazing. Like everyone else, doctors, nurses, my physiotherapist. Everyone was Great awesome and encouraging when I was making treatment plans here in Canada for my back injury.

A spokesperson for Shared Health tells CTV News that he continues to recognize the pressure COVID has placed not only on patients who have contracted the virus and their families, but to others who have had surgeries and procedures postponed as the healthcare system responds to the pandemic. This includes patients awaiting spine surgery.

“We also recognize that the effects of the pandemic have further complicated pre-existing staffing issues.Work to recruit, retain and train more staff is underway, ”the statement said.

“Patient cases for spinal fusion surgeries are prioritized based on their ability to maintain function, with urgency dictated by specific symptoms and medical signs displayed by the patient. “

A spokesperson for Shared Health said it can take up to two years for non-urgent cases to be treated.

Shared Health was also unable to provide information on the number of Manitobans seeking such care elsewhere.

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