The desperate Michigan woman who used GoFundMe to pay for a heart transplant is far from alone

The story of a Michigan woman forced to raise money to fund heart transplantation for her drugs provokes outrage, but her situation is far more common than people might think.

GoFundMe donors have already pledged more than $ 28,000 for Hedda Martin late Monday, a few days after Spectrum Health's transplant heart transplant committee rejected the 60-year-old woman's request for a transplant because she needed to have a transplant. a "safer financial plan" to pay for later expenses. transplant of anti-rejection drugs.

The committee suggested "a fundraising effort of $ 10,000," according to a viral rejection letter. The sum is intended to pay 20% of the quota to pay for two years of drugs, said the campaign GoFundMe.

Martin's son, Alex Britt, created the fund by writing that because his mother "needs money right now to be able to be listed on the transplant list and not waste precious time, we ask all that you can afford. "

The dog walker and pet keeper face congestive heart failure after chemotherapy more than ten years earlier for breast cancer, his son wrote. Martin "has at least 20 years of life in her … if she can have a new heart," Alex wrote.

In a long statement, Spectrum Health, a medical provider with 14 hospitals, said it could not comment on particular patients because of their privacy rights.

"Even if we can not provide a transplant, we are always upset, but we need to ensure that transplants are successful and that the donor's organs remain viable," said the medical provider. "We carefully examine candidates for heart and lung transplantation procedures with care and compassion, and they are often extremely complex and difficult decisions."

Spectrum said its goal was patient well-being, but "the fact is that transplants require lifelong care and immunosuppression drugs. As a result, costs are sometimes a regrettable and unavoidable factor in the decision-making process. "

Martin's story caught the attention of the media, reinforced by a tweet from the House of Representatives' elected denial letter, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York. "Insurance groups recommend GoFundMe as an official policy: clients can die if they can not reach the goal in time – but there is no question that single payer health care is unreasonable," she says. written.

The stakes may be exceptionally high for Martin, but she is not alone in receiving online donations for her health-related bills. Medical campaigns are an important part of fundraising at GoFundMe. A third of donations from the site around the world go to medical costs.

More than 250,000 medical campaigns around the world have raised an average of $ 650 million a year, excluding other crowdfunding portfolio activities such as YouCaring and CrowdRise. That's about $ 330 million collected for annual GoFundMe commemorative campaigns, $ 230 million for emergency campaigns, and $ 70 million for education funds.

"Every day on GoFundMe, we see the challenges Americans face in the face of the rising costs of a failing health care system. Their stories are often heartbreaking and we strive to be a place where people in need can find help and support, "said a website spokesman at MarketWatch.

"Despite the progress made with the Affordable Care Act, gaps in coverage of treatment, prescriptions and related health care are increasing, even for patients with insurance coverage," he said. said the spokesman, adding that the necessary expenses could go to loss of income due to the payment of new therapies.

The site pointed out that it was not trying to be "a substitute social safety net" because "a crowdfunding platform can not and should not be a solution to complex systemic issues that need to be solved with a policy significant public ".

Affordable and diverse health care is a right to fight for, said GoFundMe. "In the meantime, we will continue to work hard to provide a place where Americans can help one another when needed."

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Expenditure comes as health costs rise for both premiums and employer-paid expenses. In fact, medical costs accounted for 17.4% of gross domestic product in 2016, a record level, according to a report released last month by the Economic Policy Institute.

Health care has emerged as the most important issue in recent mid-term elections, according to several surveys. In fact, other studies indicate that medical bills are the main cause of personal bankruptcies.

S & # 39; s Internet support for help on medical bills carries risks. The patient must hope to receive enough money and this will happen in time. Patients who require an organ transplant, for example, must be sufficiently ill to be included in the transplant registry and, in such circumstances, only have months or even weeks to find the financial means and a donor.

In the meantime, good-hearted donors must also ensure that their money is used properly. Although there is no suggestion of impropriety with Martin, this happens.

In a recent high-profile case, New Jersey prosecutors recently laid charges against a homeless couple and man who cheated donors by giving them more than $ 400,000 for a GoFundMe campaign. The campaign apparently aimed to help the homeless person who had saved his last 20 dollars to help a stuck car. GoFundMe said it would reimburse the trapped donors in this case.

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