A Michigan woman suffering from congestive heart failure was advised to set up a "fundraising effort" in order to raise $10,000, so that she could be considered a candidate for a heart transplant.
The administrators at her hospital, Spectrum Health, in Grand Rapids, don’t believe that the woman, Hedda Martin, can afford coverage for the immunosuppressive medication -- which would be used to make sure that her body doesn't reject the heart.
Therefore, they suggested she raise the money on her own.
Martin’s son, Alex Britt, acted on that advice -- and shared Martin’s story on GoFundMe this past weekend.
Now, the response to the family’s ordeal has gone viral. Even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a new congresswoman from New York City, took to Twitter about the situation.
Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy - where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time - but sure, single payer healthcare is unreasonable.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 24, 2018
h/t @DanRiffle pic.twitter.com/zetPW0MgDd
Britt shared more about his mother’s circumstances on the GoFundMe page, saying Martin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and the chemotherapy treatment, while curing her cancer, damaged her heart to the extent that she now requires a transplant. She also had to leave her job and go on disability.
Britt said Martin was an active dog-walker and pet sitter.
“Imagine [her] disappointment when she was told she was denied due to finances. Mom [worked] all her life. She paid taxes, into medical care, and held up the economy by spending most of her hard-earned dollars. Now this.”
The $10,000 is intended to cover the 20 percent co-pay needed for two years of anti-rejection medication. On the bright side, all the attention is certainly paying off. At last check, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $28,000.
Still, it's made for a tough situation for the family.
"Mom is a young 60, and has at least 20 more years of life in her ... if she can get a new heart," Britt said online.
Spectrum Health has issued a statement on its role in the matter.
"While we do not comment on specific patient situations to protect their privacy, Spectrum Health cares deeply about every patient that enters its doors and provides each of them the highest quality of care possible. While it is always upsetting when we cannot provide a transplant, we have an obligation to ensure that transplants are successful and that donor organs will remain viable. We thoughtfully review candidates for heart and lung transplant procedures with care and compassion, and these are often highly complex, difficult decisions. While our primary focus is the medical needs of the patient, the fact is that transplants require lifelong care and immunosuppression drugs, and therefore costs are sometimes a regrettable and unavoidable factor in the decision making process. We partner with our patients throughout their care and work closely with them to identify opportunities for financial assistance. Our clinical team has an ongoing dialogue with patients about their eligibility, holding frequent in-person meetings and inform patients in-person to ensure they fully understand their specific situation."
Added Britt on the crowdfunding site, “The transplant team does not want to ‘waste’ a vital organ if she cannot afford heart rejection drugs. Understandably.
"However, they are not even willing to put her on the list knowing it would still give her time to raise money over a year or so through family. Because she needs the funding right away to qualify being put on the transplant list and not lose valuable time, we are asking for anything you may be able to afford. We need to get mom on the heart transplant list. She can go before the transplant team again on March 26, 2019.”
Martin was a single mother and raised Britt alone, he said.
Her son signs off, “Please help if you can.”