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 . . .
Puerto Rico’s potential as a transplant center is partly based on a macabre statistic – the Caribbean island had a murder and non-negligent manslaughter rate of 19.2 per 100,000 people in 2014 compared to 4.5 per 100,000 in the United States, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data. (Read more from “This Is What Puerto Rico Is Looking to Help Cure Ailing Economy” HERE)