Emily Saunders: still losing weight. Saunders: still losing weight.

Woman has regrets over Mexico surgery

Canadian can't get follow-up care after weight-loss procedure in Tijuana

Weight-loss surgery in Mexico has turned out to be a disaster for a Canadian woman who has been unable to get follow-up care at home.


Due to long wait times, Emily Saunders traveled from her home in Hythe, Alberta, to Tijuana for gastric sleeve surgery.

The procedure was successful in terms of reducing Saunders’ weight but now she has lost too much. She weighed 250 pounds before the surgery, and has lost 127 pounds since.

“And I’m still losing weight. There is only so much more weight I can lose before my heart gives out,” she told CBC News.

Saunders has been unable to get follow-up care because specialists — her doctor has referred her to six — have refused to see her. Her husband thinks it’s because she went to Mexico for the surgery.

“It breaks my heart to see my wife just withering away,” said Barry Reed.


Saunders said she won’t be able to go for a consultation at the Edmonton bariatric clinic until June, which will be nearly 18 months after her post-surgery problems began.

Alberta Health Services said bariatric patients must undergo behavioral and psychological therapies, counseling and assessments before surgery, and that the current wait time for bariatric “revision” surgery is three to four months.

Meanwhile, Saunders cannot stomach solid foods. Said Reed: “Every time she eats she’s doubled over in pain . . . . She’s been in pain every day for a year and a half now.”

Saunders regrets her decision to go to Mexico for treatment, and suggests others considering it “do your homework.”

“In my experience, don’t do it. Don’t go to a foreign country for surgery and expect to have the follow-up care that you need in Canada, because it’s not going to happen.”

Source: CBC News (en)

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  • James Smith

    no supporter of the health care system in mexico but in this case it looks like her beef is with the universal health care system of canada which typically, as with most such socialist medicine programs, guarantees rationed health care and long waits for those finally who live long enough to receive it. not mexco’s fault……at least not this time.

    • Mexico’s healthcare system is superlative, but you do have to know what you’re doing. It beats the Dickens out of Obamacare for sure. But you are correct in this case. The woman’s problem now is Canada’s socialist medical system.

      • Dave Warren

        Well our Socialist Commie Free System just fine in Canada. The problem is that no Canadian Doctor wants to take any responsibility for the health of that woman in case she dies and they get sued. I’m not saying the doctor in Mexico was bad …but he wasn’t certified in Canada, and the Doctors are frightened of the patient. I don’t agree with their stand …but I understand the problem. It is a legal thing. Blame our Commie law.

    • bushwah

      Oh, you and Felipe are a barrel of laughs, you are.

      A foreign doctor screws up a medical procedure and basically sentences a patient to death (according to her, anyway), and the Canadian health care system is responsible?

      There are wait times for non-urgent surgery in Canada as there are everywhere in the world, the difference being that we do not pay out of pocket and the time we wait does not depend on how much money we have.

      She will be able to get seen at the bariatric clinic in question before long. I would seriously think that if someone qualified believed that her life was in danger, she would be seen earlier.

      Just as a tiny for-instance, both my parents have had heart pacemakers implanted – my dad 15 years ago and my mum 2 months ago. Both were admitted to hospital from the emergency room when they attended with sudden-onset symptoms, and both had the surgery within 3 days, that wait time being because, in his case, he had to transfer to a tertiary hospital, and in hers, because she was admitted on a Saturday. My partner had surgery for a retinal detachment on a Sunday evening, after going to hospital at midnight the previous night. He has also had emergency treatment for two episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis and for strokes, the latter including ER, neuro intensive care, two weeks in hospital, two months in residential rebab followed by two months of outpatient rehab and seemingly endless rounds of specialist appointments, and ongoing therapeutic and social services. Etc., etc., etc. Our cost (and our gripe) is alway the taxi fares.

      Urgent situations are dealt with urgently in Canada. Non-urgent situations, in spite of how urgent the patient might feel they are, are dealt with based on the available resources. In some specific fields, orthopedic surgery (joint replacement) being one in some places, there is a shortage of resources. People don’t die without hip replacements. Let’s check back and see how this one plays out in June.

      Meanwhile, the Canadian taxpayer gets to pay a load of money to fix a problem created when someone chose to circumvent the safeguards in our system and act on her own whim.

      • James Smith

        if you are typical of the thought and reasoning processes of most canadians, then, brother, there is no hope for your country. i always thought there was something strange about a nation which would choose tree leaf for its national symbol.

        • bushwah

          Profound. Very profound.

          Now go tell Lebanon to get that tree off its flag.


          Hey, you probably need to know that abortion is free and on demand here, too — with no waiting, let alone mandatory legislated delays! Made your day, eh?

          Diego Reyna waves his maple leaf in your direction!


          • James Smith

            did i forget to mention that those brutal winters of yours obviously have also caused total national insanity? get lost, jerk.

      • Garry Montgomery

        The “foreign”doctor didn’t screw up. The surgery was a success. she would have been warned about follow-up procedures but chose to go back onto the inadequate Canadain system. Return to Mexico and have a qualified doctor complete the process and stay lean for the rest of your life.

    • Garry Montgomery

      No beef? Where else in the world is better (maybe Uruguay) but Canada and the U.S, fail in comparison.

  • johnamitchell

    In my opinion, the problem lies squarely on the shoulders of this lady. I see nothing in the article as to why she cannot just return to Mexico for her follow up care. When I checked into this surgery in Guadalajara it was made very clear to me that I should return to the same clinic for several follow up visits.

  • Sergio

    She’s a liability. She really should return to Mexico for the follow up. It’s not a good idea to make rash decisions like that without measuring the consequences.

  • Roxana

    What ever happened to the Hippocratic Oath in Canada?

  • SeaHawk68

    It seems that everything in this website is against Mexico. I had a cancerous surgery performed (hysterctomy) in Guaymas, Mexico September 20014, and I am doing very well. My doctors were a husband and wife team Elizabeth Cortez and Eric Guzman. I thank God for this exceptionally well-trained couple who treated me as if I were their parent.

  • Ramona Ray

    logic dictates this has absolutely NOTHING to do with the quality of the surgery, it has to do with the fact she needs after care and follow up and she can NOT obtain it in CANADA, so the smart thing to do here DUH is to go BACK to the clinic where she had the surgery done in the first place. Good grief, where do people leave their common sense.

  • cygnet2

    I have had 4 surgeries at Sharp Hospital in Mazatlan, Mexico. A Nissen fundoplication for GERD, gall bladder removal, tonsillectomy with throat abscess removal and shoulder surgery to release an impinged nerve. Excellent results! I can not say enough good things about the quality of care. Doctors who work 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week and are on call on day 7. They give you their cell phone numbers, as well. I have texted with my doctor at 3 am. Immaculately cleaned private rooms, medical personnel in clean, ironed uniforms, minimal jewelry – wedding rings, stud earrings and watches, only, hair always pulled back into a bun, minimal makeup – all to maintain a clean environment. I had no complications with any of my surgeries and my doctors were the best of the best. You NEVER have to wait weeks or months for an appointment. If you call in the morning, you get a same day appointment. Always.
    Her doctor has referred her to 6 specialist and none will take her. She should spend her money flying back to the doctor who did her surgery. Her results are not normal and she should be able to eat small quantities of low-fat food after that type of surgery. Sounds like she chose an inexpensive clinic in a place just over the border from the US.
    If you do your homework, you will find EXCELLENT doctors and surgeons in Mexico. It’s a shame she blames the entire country for her results.

    • Mike Snyder

      She underwent surgery in Tijuana.

  • Garry Montgomery

    Maybe she needs to take another medical vacation in Mexico and have the gastric band removed and have counselling on her future diet . . . .? It seems the procedure was a success but she naverr gave thought to what would happen afterwards.

  • Mike Snyder

    How many ways can you say “stupid?” First of all, why didn’t she “do her homework” and learn that weight loss involves calories, how many you consume and how many you “burn.” She wanted a quick fix and she found it – without doing any homework. My dentist in Leon worked for NASA, my dentist in DF was a pediatric dentist in Washington. I had surgery in San Miguel de Allende, and aware of the risks involved with general anesthesia I did my homework and felt secure I was in good hands. I also encountered a couple of horrible dentists in Veracruz, so bad I drove to DF every six months. This woman has nothing to complain about except the bad decision she made, and has no one to blame except herself. She is responsible for the consequences, and perhaps others will benefit from her unfortunate experience. Incidentally, last time I checked (almost two decades ago) using the data base of El Norte, I found litigation involving only two cases of medical malpractice (negligencia medica) in Mexico. In the entire country.

  • Rhonda Dudley

    She is very much to blame for her situation. The article is reading as if she is blaming all of Mexico as a one and not the place she actually got her surgery done. Most all of the doctors here where I am [ Yucatan Mexico where I had my two surgeries] to go back to them for the follow ups. Not only this they will give you their personal phone number and their email addresses and tell you to contact them for anything asap as needed. They have always replied back to me as soon as they were able too. So in her situation she also should have done her homework and checked to see if the docs in her area would do the follow ups for her or somthing. Why are they not taking another trip back to where the surgery was done in the first place? Did she stay there for a flew days after the surgery? How long? If not why? Many other factors go into this story and the whole story is not being told.