Daily Mail | Reuters
|Nurses attend to a young patient at the Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in San Juan. Puerto Rico is trying to build its medical tourism industry, from a current level of about $80 million a year to $300 million by 2017|
Fearing her husband would die waiting for a heart transplant in Miami, Carmen Concepcion started looking for a faster way to save his life, and found the answer in her native Puerto Rico.
Pablo, 59, could barely walk from the family room to the bathroom without growing short of breath, Carmen said.
She looked across the states for hospitals with shorter wait times until a friend recommended she consider her homeland. Carmen was hesitant but 'gave it a chance.'
In December, Pablo received his heart transplant, becoming the first person to travel from the mainland to the U.S. commonwealth for the procedure, said Dr. Ivan Gonzalez-Cancel, his surgeon and the director of the heart transplant center at the Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. Pablo is now able to bike about a mile and climb four to five flights of steps.
Puerto Rico is trying to build its medical tourism industry, from a current level of about $80 million a year to $300 million by 2017, as part of efforts to heal its chronically sick economy. A component of that is to encourage more patients to travel for organ transplants. Continue reading