A woman in Grand Rapids who was denied a heart transplant for lack of money said the hospital could reconsider her case now that a fundraising campaign raised more than $ 28,000 for the necessary anti-rejection medications.
Hedda Martin, 60, wrote in a Facebook article Monday that a heart transplant committee of Spectrum Health, the Grand Rapids-based hospital system, could meet as early as Tuesday and decide if it is now eligible for a new heart .
The committee had previously ruled his candidacy ineligible, citing his lack of financial means to pay for drugs, given the annual deductible of $ 4,500 in his Medicare plan. Martin's 20% drug contribution would cost about $ 700 a month until the deductible is reached.
In an official letter that went to social media, a Spectrum Health nurse informed Martin that her transplant had been refused for the time being and that the transplant committee had recommended that she launch a $ 10,000 fundraising campaign. anti-rejection drugs.
New United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a single payer health insurance lawyer, gained national prominence by becoming the youngest woman elected to Congress after a vexing victory over a long-time Democratic candidate.
By the end of Monday, Martin's GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $ 28,300, including an anonymous donation of $ 10,000.
Martin, who was suffering from congestive heart failure, was initially scheduled to surgically implant a ventricular assist pump as a "gateway" to his possible heart transplant. Following the rejection letter from the hospital, the pump became the survival option of his plan B.
She hoped to live another eight years with the pump, against 15 to 20 years more if she received a new heart.
However, the implant surgery of the pump – scheduled for Monday – was abruptly postponed given the amount of money that his GoFundMe campaign had collected, according to Martin's message on Facebook.
She wrote, "No surgery today, I have requested that my case be referred to the Transplant Committee tomorrow." "Wish me luck." My request for $ 10,000 (funding) is satisfied. "
Martin, whose heart had been damaged by chemotherapy for breast cancer in 2005, also expressed his gratitude in the message posted on Facebook for all the financial support received.
"My heart speaks to you all with the deepest love and thanks," she wrote. "The bestowal of support, even if it ended up becoming very political, I appreciate a lot."
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Spectrum Health rejected requests for interviews from Free Press, referring to a general statement about the situation on its website.
It is unclear whether the hospital system has considered contacting the manufacturers of the anti-rejection drugs before issuing the organ transplant refusal. Some drug companies offer significant discounts, or even free drugs, to poor patients in a life-threatening situation.
"The fact is that transplants require lifelong care and immunosuppression medications, so costs are sometimes an unfortunate and inevitable factor in the decision-making process," says Spectrum Health's release.
Representatives of the American Heart Association and Gift of Life Michigan, an organ and tissue donation organization based in Ann Arbor, said Monday that they were unaware similar situations involving patients whose heart transplants have been refused due to a lack of money to pay for postoperative medications. .
Gift of Life CEO Dorrie Dils said it was understandable that organ transplant centers consider the ability of potential transplant recipients to maintain good health, as well as their new organs.
"If this woman were to receive a transplant and not take her medication, not only would the heart be lost, but she would probably die," said Dils. "With so few hearts available for a transplant, it is essential that these hearts go well – patients who have a solid plan."
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing network, 159 people were waiting for a heart transplant in Michigan on November 1st. There were 3,102 people online in Michigan for all organ transplants, most of them waiting for kidneys.
Contact JC Reindl at 313-222-6631 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JCReindl.
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