An unapologetic Danny Williams says he was aware his trip to the United States for heart surgery earlier this month would spark outcry, but he concluded his personal health trumped any public fallout over the controversial decision.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Williams said he went to Miami to have a "minimally invasive" surgery for an ailment first detected nearly a year ago, based on the advice of his doctors.
"This was my heart, my choice and my health," Williams said late Monday from his condominium in Sarasota, Fla.
"I did not sign away my right to get the best possible health care for myself when I entered politics."
The 60-year-old Williams said doctors detected a heart murmur last spring and told him that one of his heart valves wasn't closing properly, creating a leakage.
He said he was told at the time that the problem was "moderate" and that he should come back for a checkup in six months.
Eight months later, in December, his doctors told him the problem had become severe and urged him to get his valve repaired immediately or risk heart failure, he said.
His doctors in Canada presented him with two options - a full or partial sternotomy, both of which would've required breaking bones, he said.
He said he spoke with and provided his medical information to a leading cardiac surgeon in New Jersey who is also from Newfoundland and Labrador. He advised him to seek treatment at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.
VH: It's nice that Mr. Williams had the option to come to the U.S. for his treatment; he was wise not to sit and wait before it was too late. It must be comforting to have an option even if it means leaving your country.