Canadian MS Patient Dies After Controversial Surgery in Costa Rica

November 20, 2010

A Canadian man who traveled to Costa Rica for multiple sclerosis (MS) therapy died from complications in a Costa Rican hospital, Canadian newspapers reported today. 

Mahir Mostic, 35, came to Costa Rica’s Clinica Biblica in June to undergo a controversial procedure to expand the veins in his neck, which increases blood flow to the brain. The procedure, which is not offered in Canada, was developed by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni. It is not yet clear how effective or dangerous the treatment might be.  Zamboni says the procedure has alleviated symptoms for many patients, including his wife, said the Canadian daily The Globe and Mail.

But for Mostic, the surgery was not successful, and his death has sparked a gathering debate over the issue.

After traveling to Costa Rica to have the surgery in June, Mostic’s condition worsened after he returned to his home in Ontario, Canada. He returned to Costa Rica for follow-up care last month, and died Oct. 19.

Bill Cook, operations manager for international patient services at Clinica Biblica, told the Toronto Star that an average of 80 patients have traveled to Costa Rica each month since the hospital began offering the $11,000 procedure in June. He said that complications like what Mostic suffered are extremely uncommon. 

The Tico Times called Clinica Biblica on Friday, but could not reach Mostic’s doctor or the head of international services.

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