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Patients from recently closed Digby thyroid clinic speak out

Kris Murdock.
Kris Murdock.

DIGBY, NS – Patients of the recently closed Digby thyroid clinic have formed an advocacy group and are sharing their experiences with thyroid disease.

Orchid Cafe Thyroid Group members have begun submitting letters to the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Research Ethics Board, asking for a specific explanation why Dr. Ronald Matsusaki’s clinic was closed.

Four group members, including Murdock, have shared their testimonies about their own experience with their disease, finding the clinic and their situation now that it’s closed.


Kris Murdock

Around 30 years ago, Kris Murdock had her thyroid gland irradiated as a preventative measure.

Her doctor prescribed her synthetic thyroid to help manage her thyroid disease. Even after dosage changes, Murdock was always left feeling something wasn’t right.

She had a high-pressure job and felt her health was making a stressful situation even worse. She researched extensively and found many medical articles describing the effects of a natural approach and asked her doctor to prescribe her the natural desiccated thyroid.

She was told no.

Murdock began attending the thyroid clinic within the last year and says she felt relieved when Matsusaki recommended the natural approach.

“Every case is different, and synthetic thyroid wasn’t working for me. He’s the one who finally listened,” she says.

She feels abandoned by the health authority and scared, with no alternative care available that will work for her.

“It doesn’t make sense. This is patient abandonment. Where are we supposed to go now?” she asks.


Maja Husistein.

Maja Husistein

Maja Husistein’s thyroid gland was partially removed 20 years ago and until two years ago she had zero troubles.

After thyroid disease symptoms appeared, Husistein was diagnosed with hyperthyroid disease, or having a thyroid producing too much hormone, causing her body to burn fat.

She began medication for it and immediately gained weight. After researching thyroid symptoms online, she returned to her doctor to ask for a re-evaluation.

She was told no.

After finding Matsusaki and getting bloodwork done, he diagnosed her as hypothyroid, meaning her thyroid was under, not over, active. After beginning her new treatment plan she felt an immediate change, lost weight and an energy she hadn’t felt in a long time.

She now feels lost and frustrated because the clinic is gone.

“The worst thing about this is we’ve received zero response from the health authority about the letters we’ve sent,” she says.

“We need to hear something. We deserve at least that.”


Rob Fadelle.

Rob Fadelle

Rob Fadelle is also frustrated.

Fadelle was diagnosed with hypothyroidism at the age of 12 and treated with synthetic thyroid until 15, at which time he was taken off the medication. He was unmedicated until the age of 53 despite suffering from thyroid disease symptoms like fatigue, irritable bowl, hair loss and stress. Because his basic bloodwork tests appeared normal, he was told he was fine.

At the age of 53, a mass was found on his thyroid, which Fadelle had removed. He was then put back on synthetic thyroid.

After doing some research, he asked his doctor to prescribe him natural desiccated thyroid medication.

He was told no.

He felt elated when Matsusaki ran tests and found his hormone levels were irregular and began a new treatment plan of desiccated thyroid.

“Doctors told me for years that synthetic thyroid was my only option, but now I’m on this and it’s working wonders. How can that be denied?” he asks.

He wonders at the reasons behind the health authority’s decision to shut the clinic down, because he says every patient he’s met is more than happy with their treatment.

“No one has been harmed, the medications are recognized and have existed for over five decades and we’re getting better. Again, how can that be denied?” he says.


Wilma Barry.

Wilma Barry

Wilma Barry sits by her window surrounded by plants as she describes what led to her hypothyroid diagnoses around two years ago.

“I was tired all the time, felt horrible, got sick often and couldn’t even get to town to get my groceries,” she said.

After massive swelling around her thyroid gland appeared as a golf ball-sized swell near her thyroid, Barry went to outpatients and saw Matsusaki, who ran extensive tests to determine what was going on.

He then took time to describe the results to Barry, something she deeply appreciated.

“I had epilepsy as a child, so it takes me time to understand things sometimes. Dr. Ron got that and was remarkably good to me, walking me through everything,” she says.

Barry was able to fill her prescriptions only days before the clinic was closed and has enough for several months.

The eternal optimist, she hopes the health authority will reinstate the clinic so it can continue helping people.

“He was so good to everyone. That should keep going,” she says.

For more on the story:

Digby thyroid clinic closed by NSHA ethics board

Dr. Ronald Matsusaki responds to closure of his thyroid clinic

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