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CONTENTS

Poll: Sizeable Minority of Americans Would Consider Medical Tourism

Obama Supports Stem Cell Research by Overturning Previous Policy

Intra-State Medical Travel

A Heartwarming Tribute to Medical Travel

Surrogacy Provides Hope for Couples Worldwide

BridgeHealth Provides Access to Adult Stem Cell Treatments, Spanning Neurodegenerative and Skin/Bone/Soft Tissue Diseases, Sight Restoration, and Orthopedic Conditions

Weight Loss Success Does Not End with Surgery

Food and Travel Translation Cards

Hot Spot Destinations
Brazil
Costa Rica
Malaysia

Latest News in Medical Travel

Hot Spot Destinations

Brazil

The devaluation of the Real (Brazilian currency) against the U.S. dollar makes Brazil an excellent destination for low-cost, world-class medical tourism treatment.

Patients can relax and enjoy a smooth recovery along Brazil's pristine beaches.

Brazil is home to several medical travel hospitals that are fully Joint Commission International (JCI) accredited, and are among the top health tourism hospitals in Latin America.

For more information, please visit www.medretreat.com/destinations/brazil.html; www.bridgehealthinternational.com

Costa Rica

Costa Rica attracts medical travel patients with its beautiful scenery, friendly locals, and temperate climate.

In recent years, Costa Rica has seen a growing number of medical travel patients seeking cosmetic surgery at affordable prices. For example, a face-lift in Costa Rica costs about $3,000 vs. the U.S. cost of anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000.

Board-certified surgeons offer personalized follow-up care, visiting patients several times after surgery to review progress and address concerns.

Visit www.costarica.com/Medical-Tourism/ for more information.

Malaysia
Tunisia

Malaysia has gained a reputation as one of the preferred locations for medical tourism and health care tours by virtue of its highly efficient medical staff and modern health care facilities.

Most facilities offer accommodations for their patients ranging from comfortable rooms to luxurious suites with personal butlers and full-time nurses.

Patients have the opportunity to enjoy the beaches or go sightseeing and participate in other tourist activities during their recuperation.

For more information, please visit www.recoverdiscover.com/medical-tourism-malaysia.php

Medical Tourism News You Can Use

Slowdown speeds up medical tourism
May 11, 2009
Mumbai (Hindustan Times) -- California resident Barbara Pastal, 47, had been trimming her household expenditure for months to save up for a hip replacement surgery when her husband's firm cut his pay by 30 percent in February.

Orlando doc plans $17 million 'medical tourism' development
May8, 2009
Orlando, FL (Orlando Business Journal) --Kirti Kalidas, M.D., wants to build a new 107,000-square-foot project he's touting as an example of "medical tourism."

Lower costs lure U.S. patients abroad for treatment
March 27, 2009
NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- "I was a walking time bomb. I knew I had to get on that plane if I wanted to be around to see my grandkids."

Medical tourism: Have illness, will travel
March 26, 2009
(CNN) -- Medical tourism is one of the hottest topics in healthcare as patients around the world are increasingly traveling abroad for treatment.

Going Abroad to Find Affordable Healthcare
March 20, 2009
(nytimes.com) - When Ben Schreiner, a 62-year-old retired Bank of America executive, found out last year he would need surgery for a double hernia, he started evaluating possible doctors and hospitals.

Mexico the new dental destination
March 24, 2009
LOS ALGODONES, Mexico
(www.chicagotribune.com) -- The sales pitches start just a few steps after you cross the border into Mexico.

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Dear Medical Traveler,

Welcome to Your Medical Travel, your personal resource for tips and information on the newest opportunities in medical tourism.

Questions? Comments? Contact Alyson Kuritz at editor@yourmedicaltravel.com

The information in Medical Travel Today and Your Medical Travel is believed to be accurate, but in some instances, may represent opinion or judgment. The newsletter's providers do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any of the information and shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused - directly or indirectly - by or from the information. All information should be considered a supplement to - and not a substitute for - the care provided by a licensed healthcare provider or other appropriate expert. The appearance of advertising in this newsletter should in no way be interpreted as a product or service endorsement by the newsletter's providers.

Poll: Sizeable Minority of Americans Would Consider Medical Tourism

HealthLeaders
John Commins, May 20, 2009
A new Gallup Poll finds that many Americans-particularly the uninsured-are willing to travel abroad for major medical procedures, especially if they believe the quality of care would be the same, but significantly cheaper, than care in the United States.

Health insurance is an important factor in the likelihood that Americans would consider getting health treatment abroad. For example, 37% of uninsured respondents would seek cancer care abroad as compared to 22% with health insurance.

Gallup says the survey results indicate that the increasing cost of medical care in the United States and large numbers of uninsured is making medical tourism a viable option.

"If strides in insurance reimbursements, overseas hospital quality, and affordability continue, it will be an increasingly attractive option for Americans," Gallup says. "The data suggest the estimated population of 48 million Americans without health insurance are motivated by costs and would be more likely than those with health insurance coverage to consider seeking medical care from alternative sources."

The poll showed that:

  • 29% of respondents would consider traveling outside of the US for alternative medical treatments for a major medical problem
  • 24% would seek cancer diagnosis and treatment abroad
  • 15% would receive orthopedic procedures
  • 14% would consider traveling to another country for heart treatment
  • 10% would seek plastic surgery

The mid-April poll of 5,050 adults involved a split-sample experiment. One random half-sample was asked the "direct" question on whether they would consider treatment abroad. The second half was asked whether they would consider treatment abroad assuming "the quality was the same and the costs significantly cheaper." Given that assurance, the percentage saying they would consider medical treatment outside U.S. borders increased by 12% on average. The poll has a 2% margin of error.

For example, when told that the cancer treatment they would get abroad was of equal quality and significantly cheaper than what they would get in the US, the percentage of respondents who said they'd consider traveling abroad from 24% to 37%.

Across regions, Midwesterners are the least willing to consider treatment abroad. Westerners are the most willing. Southerners are also below average in their enthusiasm for medical tourism, with the exception of hip or knee replacement.

Obama Supports Stem Cell Research by Overturning Previous Policy

President Obama recently lifted the ban that limited federal tax dollars for embryonic stem cell research. The ban overturn brings great promise to the future of scientific and medical advances, allowing a flood of research that was not possible prior to the reversal.

Prior to the overturning of Bush's stem cell policy, patients suffering from diseases -- including heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's -- had few treatment options.  With Obama's change, these patients can look forward with hope to the availability of additional options as a result of this research.

In the meantime, the advent and legalization of new treatments that utilize stem cells in the United States could take years. For those who need this type of treatment now medical travel offers a viable option.

Medical travel provides access to quality medical care at lower costs, immediate availability of procedures without long waitlists, and innovative treatments that may not be available in many countries.  Health care in the United States is among the most expensive in the world, and by travelling internationally, patients can receive treatment from equally qualified physicians for 25 to 75 percent less.

Support for stem cell treatments around the world is on the rise, and many are beginning to see the astounding results of the procedure. An example of these results is the touching story of Jennifer Blankenship, a multiple sclerosis (MS) patient who began to see recovery within hours of her first stem cell treatment.

After her domestic doctor of 20 years continued to witness a decline in her condition, Jennifer decided to seek treatment abroad. Jennifer travelled to The Center for International Medicine Advanced (CIMA) San Jose through BridgeHealth International (www.bridgehealthinternational.com) to receive allogeneic stem cell treatment from cord blood for MS.

Allogeneic stem cell transplantation is a procedure in which a person receives blood-forming stem cells (cells from which all blood cells develop) from a genetically similar, but not identical, donor. This is often a sister or brother, but could be an unrelated donor. Stem cells can be harvested from a newborn's umbilical cord.

In one treatment session spanning about one week's time, she received two IV's and two spinal injections, ultimately contributing to her overall improvements.  After receiving this therapy, Jennifer was finally able to raise her hands above her head for the first time in years. 

She continues to remain optimistic and in a recent television interview stated "I think I the world is the limit." (March 12, 2009)

Please visit: www.whitehouse.gov for more information on Obama's plan for stem cell research.

Intra-State Medical Travel

Take a train or car ride

"You have lung cancer" is something you never want to hear.  Unfortunately for Margaret, a bubbly 82-year-old, this was exactly what her doctor told her.  Your Medical Travel editors had the opportunity to interview Margaret's daughter, Polly, who traveled with her mother to Loma Linda University Hospital, located in southern California, for Proton Therapy Treatment.

YMT: Did your mother exhibit any signs or symptoms of having lung cancer?
P: No, she did not.  She had a cough, but it wasn't bothering her enough for us to look into it.  Mom was always into eating healthy and aware of what she was putting into her body.  She was never a smoker, so lung cancer was one of the last things we would have expected her to be diagnosed with.

YMT: How was it diagnosed in your mother's case?
P: It was diagnosed by chance.  My mother had a stroke and recovered quickly.  The doctors ordered a scan to check for clots, and that is when they discovered a mass in her lungs.  They were able to remove part of her lung, but the cancer had metastasized by that time to her lymph nodes.   

YMT: What made you consider medical travel?
P:  Despite suggestions from doctors, my siblings and I knew that we did not want to put mom through chemotherapy and traditional radiation.  At her age we felt it would cause too much pain and damage.  We heard about proton therapy at Loma Linda University Hospital from a friend.  We saw we had two choices for proton therapy: California or Massachusetts.  Loma Linda was significantly closer, so it made the decision easy. 

YMT: How does proton therapy work?
P: The physician and dosimetrist - a part of the oncology team who calculates and plans the radiation doses-- create a plan for treatment by making many calculations based on the size and location of the tumor.  They then use this information and transfer it to the machine, which provides the actual treatment.  Traditional X-ray radiation can be used to treat and control many types of cancer, however this method is known for also causing damage to healthy cells.  Proton therapy is extremely quick -- each session for my mom only lasted about 30 seconds -- and provides a significantly reduced amount of side effects.

YMT: What was your experience like?
P: Our experience was great.  The only major side effect was my mom's energy level decreased.  We called this experience her "cancer holiday."  We wanted to make her as happy and comfortable as possible.  We made sure to have her favorite things (Bailey's Irish Cream and chocolate) stocked at all times.  We rented a two-bedroom apartment for her while she had treatment. This allowed us to take turns making the two-hour trip and provided us an extra room to stay with her.  Loma Linda offers many social functions and educational programs.

YMT: What was the follow-up care like?
P: We went back to Loma Linda twice and have followed up with her doctor here.  She continues to have scans annually.

YMT: Would you do it again?
P: Absolutely!  In fact, we have recommended it to others.  We believe in trying to treat naturally first, if possible, and then, if no other option is available, to use the least harmful of the traditional methods.  People came from all over the country, and even some from Canada, for this treatment. 

YMT: Do you have any suggestions for others traveling to Loma Linda for treatment?
P: I would tell others to enjoy it.  Meet the people there, talk to them. Be social!

For more information on Loma Linda University Medical Center visit www.lomalindahealth.org/index.html


About Loma Linda University Medical Center
An outgrowth of the original Sanitarium on the hill in 1905, the present 11-story Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) opened on July 9, 1967. With the completion of the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital (LLUCH) in late 1993, nearly 900 beds are available for patient care, including at Loma Linda University Medical Center East Campus and Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center (LLUBMC). Loma Linda University Health Care (LLUHC), a management service organization, supports the many programs and services provided by our 400+ faculty physicians. LLUMC operates some of the largest clinical programs in the United States in areas such as neonatal care and outpatient surgery and is recognized as the international leader in infant heart transplantation and proton treatments for cancer. Each year, the institution admits more than 33,000 inpatients and serves roughly half a million outpatients. LLUMC is the only level one regional trauma center for Inyo, Mono, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

A Heartwarming Tribute to Medical Travel


If you would like to share your medical tourism experience with our readers, please contact the Editor at editor@yourmedicaltravel.com.

Dear Friends,

It is so hard to hear the diagnosis of leukemia, especially when you are just finishing school and preparing to start a new life.  It is painful to think that your hopes and dreams will go unfulfilled. 

It is even harder to see the pain in the eyes of your parents and friends, knowing that there is nothing you can say or do to comfort them or to give them hope for the future.   

My leukemia diagnosis sent my world spinning out of control - nothing made sense any more, at least until I traveled with my mother to Israel, where I went to the Schneider Children's Hospital in the town of Petach Tikwa, Israel to undergo courses of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Instead of becoming homesick I made lifelong friends with many from my extraordinary team of physicians and nurses. They made me feel safe and comfortable, and I felt as if I'd found a new home.

Now, eleven years later I say "thank you" to everyone who helped me then - words are not enough to express my feelings.

Today, I am 30 years old.  I have a wonderful family and two beautiful children. I lead a simple life just like so many people, and I know that there's nothing better than living life surrounded by loved ones and friends.  I learned a lesson in Israel, one that eludes most people throughout an entire lifetime. 

If you are confronting a serious medical problem or a life-threatening challenge, don't be afraid.  Embrace opportunities with all your heart and never stop dreaming. No matter what life hands you, there is always hope - and wonderful things can rise from your worst moments of despair.

Sincerely,

Desislava Tsaneva

About IMS Global   IMS Global Limited is the premier company for completely customized medical travel to Israel. Our mission is to assist patients - both adults and children - in accessing high quality, affordable medical care in Israel. IMS provides unsurpassed, streamlined medical services to our clients. We offer four distinct treatment units, each staffed with specialists and directed by professionals from the world-renowned medical centers in Israel to provide specifically targeted care for your best health outcome. IMS exceeds your expectations for excellence in medical care and personal service
For more information on medical travel in Israel, visit: www.medicaltourismforyou.com/ or for www.med-international.ru (for Russian translation)

Surrogacy Provides Hope for Couples Worldwide

Fertility Procedure Options Available Overseas                

Infertility plagues 7.4 percent of women in the United States.  (www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/fertile.htm)

Today, there are a few alternatives for helping childless couples -- but they often come with an outrageous price tag. Luckily, medical travel offers less expensive options.

Hospitals outside the U.S. with English-speaking doctors offer surrogate procedures at a fraction of the cost. A surrogate is a woman who will carry a baby and eventually give birth to the child. Surrogates are often between the ages of 24 to 35, in good health mentally and physically, and have already given birth to previous children without complications.

There are two main types of surrogacy: 

The first is called in-vitro fertilization, or gestational surrogacy. This is when an egg from the female is fertilized in-vitro by the male's sperm, and the embryo is transferred into the surrogate's uterus for the term of the pregnancy. This means the child has the genes of the couple, not the surrogate.

The second type of surrogacy is called traditional, or natural surrogate. This is when the surrogate is artificially inseminated with the sperm from the male partner. The child then genetically belongs to the male and the surrogate, and the female partner adopts the child.

Considering Surrogacy?  Think about these issues.
When considering surrogacy, one has to consider legal, medical, and accounting expenses, along with psychologist fees, and of course, the surrogate fee.

Surrogacy procedures in the United States can range anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000. The same procedure overseas can cost as little as $2,500, and usually doesn't exceed $35,000. The prices depend upon the type of procedure and how many attempts it takes before the egg cell and sperm cell form an embryo.

Surrogacy, like other surgical procedures, carries a certain amount of risk. Anyone considering surrogacy in the United States or abroad should research different options and procedures.

For more information visit: www.planethospital.com, www.starhospitals.net, or www.bridgehealthinternational.com/procedures/procedure/gynecology/page3.html

BridgeHealth Provides Access to Adult Stem Cell Treatments, Spanning Neurodegenerative and Skin/Bone/Soft Tissue Diseases, Sight Restoration, and Orthopedic Conditions

Leader in medical travel industry balances scientific, clinical, and regulatory issues with ethical and social concerns involving responsible use of adult stem cells in treating patients

DENVER, Colo. - 2009 -  BridgeHealth International, Inc. (www.BridgeHealthInternational.com), the premier provider of medical travel services guiding individuals and businesses, announced that adult stem cell treatments for neurodegenerative, spinal, ophthalmologic, cardiac, and orthopedic conditions -- including multiple sclerosis, stroke, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's, autism, and some brain injuries -- are now available in select locations around the world as part of its World-Class Provider NetworkTM.. 
According to Andrew Dombro, M.D., medical director for BridgeHealth, "Cautionary guidelines, such as those put forth by the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), as well as recent media coverage of patient success stories, underscore an urgent need for balance between the tremendous opportunity stem cell therapies offer with the ethical representations of expected outcomes touted by providers. In the early days of any new medical development, there is an incumbent need for pause, active analysis, and forthright responses. Having frank discussions with patients about expected outcomes and exploring their openness to realistic expectations is essential."

BridgeHealth International echoes the call that scientific, clinical, regulatory, ethical, and social issues be addressed so that stem cell research is responsibly translated into clinical applications for ongoing patient treatment. 

Victor Lazzaro, Jr., CEO of BridgeHealth says, "In our own review of providers around the world, we took great care to separate the wheat from the chaff when it came to suppliers and protocols."
According to the National Institutes of Health (www.stemcells.nih.gov/info/faqs.asp), "Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. Serving as a sort of repair system for the body, they can theoretically divide without limit to replenish other cells for as long as the person or animal is still alive."

Lazzaro concludes, "After a thorough international search to indentify the most qualified partners, BridgeHealth has finalized agreements to provide stem cell therapy for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, sight restoration, skin, bone and soft tissue diseases, and orthopedic needs.  We take pride in our ability to provide this service to our clients along with manufacturing and treatment partners who are committed to the highest standards of manufacturing and ongoing clinical research. In many cases, research has been underway for decades-30 years in the case of one partner provider-with thousands of patients receiving treatment, achieving outstanding results with no documented side effects."

Typical travel for stem cell therapy through BridgeHealth International includes: completing an extensive health history and medical review by the practicing physician(s); signing a patient agreement to participate in research outcome tracking over time; and receiving counseling on the patient's financial capability to handle the cost of treatment without distress, the willingness to follow physical therapy and other protocols, and to travel outside of the country.

About BridgeHealth International, Inc.
BridgeHealth International, Inc. (BridgeHealth) is the premier service provider in the burgeoning medical travel industry, founded with a vision "to create a trusted bridge to the world of international healthcare." BridgeHealth serves health plans, insurance carriers, employers, third party administrators, individuals accessing benefits via voluntary benefits plans, health and affinity card programs or Consumer Directed Health Care Plans (CDHP), and individual consumers seeking medical travel options.  Visit www.bridgehealthinternational.com.

Weight Loss Success Does Not End with Surgery

Losing weight is a difficult task for most people.  Some use diet and exercise while others turn to bariatric surgery to aid in their goal of significant weight loss.   However, procedures such as gastric bypass and the LapBand (www.lapband.com) can be quite expensive.  To offset extreme medical costs, medical tourism can be a great option.

When considering traveling for medical care, questions of aftercare and proper recovery are of utmost concern for the patient. Fortunately, many organizations are dedicated to ensuring the highest follow-through care once the patient returns homes.  iBariHealth (www.ibarihealth.com)  is a great resource for those who have returned home and are ready to start down the road  towards a healthier life. 

Programs such as IBariHealth offer teams of trained and registered dieticians, nurses, and exercise specialists who create highly customized plans and support to help the patient avoid relapse and malnutrition. 

Because the first year post-surgery is the most critical, a supplemental support program could make all the difference in achieving success for medical travelers.

Food and Travel Translation Cards

When traveling to a foreign country, it is always a good idea to learn the local laws and how to locate the embassy.  It's also important to carry along copies of important documents and have them readily accessible. 

But imagine that you have traveled to Brazil for a procedure and arrive a few days early to do some sightseeing. You are about to order your favorite meal, but need to explain to the waiter that you are allergic to nuts. 

Unfortunately, the waiter doesn't understand English and you can't make him understand the seriousness of your condition.  The solution:  food and travel translation cards.

They are available with numerous phrases and accompanying pictures to eliminate frustration, confusion, and potential mistakes.  In addition to communicating which foods can be harmful to you, these cards can also alert medical staff of any medicines you should avoid.

Traveling to a new destination can be both exciting and stressful.  Take steps to reduce the latter by carrying travel and translation cards, which are available in over 15 languages and cover everything from alcohol to yogurt. For more information or to purchase these cards, visit www.selectwisely.com/

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Copyright © 2009 Your Medical Travel is published by CPR Communications.
Information in this newsletter should not be considered as medical advice.