The sun, the beach and a tighter stomach. That is what Health Care Denmark (HCD) offers in a combined solution. Plastic surgery and a luxury holiday in one convenient package.
Besides the beautification, the customer gets two weeks of “luxury” included in the price which is between 23,000 Danish kroner for eye surgery up to 80,000 kroner for a complete sex change. New breasts cost 40,000 kroner including the holiday which can take place in either Hua Hin, Pattaya or Jomtien.
“We send approximately 40 Danes to Thailand for surgery each month,” Birger Tordrup, the owner of HCD explains. In another interview with ‘Sygeplejersken’, a Danish Health Care magazine, he generously adds it up to more than 1200 Danes during the last 2 years.
Yanhee Hospital in Bangkok, which cooperates with Health Care Denmark, puts the figure much lower.
“Birger Tordrup came to Yanhee Hospital with eight customers a couple of months ago. In total I think we have reached 12 patients from HCD,” says Dr Ismael Naypa, who is the leader of the international department of the hospital.
On the website of HCD it says that the company has its own office in Bangkok.
“The address is our address,” Dr Naypa confirms.
“But Birger Tordrup does not have an office in this hospital. None of our agents have offices here and we have no possibility of providing offices for them at the moment,” he says.
Three star luxury
After the treatment, the HCD customers are promised a stay at 4 or 5 star luxury hotels with five restaurants. In Bangkok, the patients have so far been accomodated at Royal River Hotel.
“We are only a three stars hotel,” a receptionist at the hotel modestly explains.
“And we don’t have five restaurants. We only have one restaurant but it is open 24 hours a day.”
In Pattaya, the HCD patients have stayed at The Welcome Plaza Hotel, which is located on one of the busy roads in central Pattaya. Here, the receptionist also says that the hotel is only a three star hotel.
If an operation goes wrong there is not much help to get in Denmark. As a citizen you are entitled to acute treatment in a public hospital, but you cannot file a complaint with Danish Board of Health Complaints. On HCD’s website the company states that the product is covered by Rejsegarantifonden (Foundation of group tours that covers if the organizer goes bankrupt)
But Rejsegarantifonden informs that only ‘Billetkontoret’ who arranges the flights to Thailand on behalf of HCD are members. That means that the customers are covered if Billetkontoret seizes to exist or goes bankrupt.
“Anything that has to do with the surgery will not be covered as will the customers not be covered if it is HCD itself that is bankrupt”, says Rejsegarantofonden.
Yanhee Hospital guarantees that all surgery is covered by their own guarantee. That means that if a customer is unhappy with the treatment, he or she can get a free re-surgery – at the same hospital.
“Yanhee’s image cannot be tarnished by unhappy customers which is why transport to and from Thailand will be refunded” it says on the HCD website. Who will actually pay for the transportation is unclear and Dr Naypa does not know.
“It is definitely not me nor the hospital who will pay for it,” says Dr Naypa.
“The hospital only covers a re-surgery if our doctors say that there is reason for it, but we do not pay for the flight tickets to get the customer back to Thailand”, he states.
Bacteria as souvenirs
Chairman of the Danish Society of Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery, Steen Matzen, thinks that going to Thailand for plastic surgery is risky.
“We always recommend the patients to be in close contact with their surgeon. If complications arise after the patient has returned to Denmark, you have a problem if your surgeon is located across the world”, says Steen Matzen.
Birger Tordrup does not consider this a problem.
“If any acute problems arise after the return to Denmark, the patient is covered by his or her yellow card (the Public Danish Health Insurance)”, says Birger Tordrup and thereby leaves the problem to the Danish health institutions.
Steen Matzen also points to the fact that for the sake of society anything but acute admittance to a hospital abroad should be avoided.
“They have some completely different strains of bacteria in Thailand. That means that after you get home from surgery abroad you bring back some resistant bacteria. A staphylococcus infection in a breast implant for example is not very funny” says Steen Matzen.
Steen Matzen emphasizes that he does not know HCD, but his guess is that it is headed by a ‘slick money man – not a doctor’.
Many jobs in few years
Birger Tordrup is not a doctor. Educated a grade school teacher, he has over the years also been assistant in a car rental company, director of a shopping mall and leader of a sports complex to mention just a few jobs.
According to Danish newspaper Jyske Vestkysten, Birger Tordrup has been released from at least eight jobs in his career. Quite often because of ‘difficulties in the cooperation’.
Neither Birger Tordrup nor the hospital will tell how much the commission on his sales volume is.
“We make a comfortable profit on this business. I don’t complain”, Birger Tordrup smiles.
This is not likely to be the case in his current employment as HCD is run by Birger Tordrup himself – plus the chairman T.H. Kristensen.
“He is an old collegue from the advertising industry”, says Birger Tordrup, who will not say what the initials T.H. stands for.
The same thing goes for the medical consultant, who allegedly works for HCD.
“He is an old friend of mine, but I am not sure if he will be available for a comment”, says Birger Tordrup again without revealing the identity of the doctor.
Dr. Naypa at Yanhee Hospital has never met or heard of any medical consultant related to HCD nor the chairman.
Untraditional marketing strategy
According to Danish tabloid Ekstrabladet, Birger Tordrup last year ran into trouble when he sent unsolicited emails to Danish prostitutes.
“With your beautiful body and appearance, you could become the perfect woman with a slightly larger bosom,” he suggested in the letters.
The Danish Council of Consumers agreed with the woman, who complained, that this was a case of illegal advertising.
Birger Tordrup then contacted TV2 in Denmark with an offer to give the TV presenters facelifts.
In general, Birger Tordrup does not mind putting the most untraditional marketing methods in use.
“I have sold breast surgery in Kvickly,” he says proudly. Kvickly is a Danish supermarket chain.
“Back home, women have gladly lift up their blouses to show me what they want done”, he says.
At Yanhee Hospital in Bangkok, Dr. Naypa is surprised to learn that his Danish agent has sold his product in supermarkets in Denmark.
“How he runs his business is up to him, be we will not jeopardize our reputation, because he sells surgery in a supermarket”, says Dr Naypa.
The contract that Birger Tordrup has with Yanhee runs until this summer and then it is up for an evaluation.
“We are obliged to continue the cooperation until the contract expires unless of course we see examples of criminal activity. We will not be associated with criminals”, says Dr Naypa.