Dying woman can't receive life-saving transplant under health care

Laquisha Mathis given six months to live

By Francesca Amiker - Reporter, Kristin Cason - Assignment editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 35-year-old woman has been given six months to live and her only hope is receiving a heart transplant.

A local mother of five was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. She said under her current health care policy she's unable to receive the transplant that can save her life. Her family is now making a plea to the public for help.

News4Jax spoke to the mother and her sister Wednesday and they said time is running out.

Laquisha Mathis has been keeping the secret from her five children for the last few weeks. Her heart is weakening from using the pump and doctors said she has less than a year to live.

"They just know mommy is sick and I don't know how to tell them because they're young," Mathis said. "In the last two years, it has done a whole 360 (turn). I can't even walk a long way. I can't stand up a long time. I can barely clean up, do grocery shopping, wash clothes, even hold my 1-year-old, because I'm always tired and always weak."

That weakness stems from a condition Mathis has had all her life. Cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure is a condition that has kept her in and out of surgery -- racking in multiple medications. She said she's able to pay for those medications while on Medicaid, but Medicaid will not cover the $1,000,000 heart transplant, which is necessary to save her life.

Her doctor, Sumant Lamba, said only Medicare will pay for the transplant. But first, she must qualify for disability, which could take two years.

"We have healthy people in our society on disability milking the system, but people who actually need it don't get it, so I wrote a strongly-worded letter saying (that) without her medication she would have been dead and her heart has given up and if she doesn't get a heart transplant she'll die," Lamba said.

Mathis said she applied for disability in 2012 but was denied. She has since reapplied and her wait continues.

"That's my sister, that's all I got and I want her here with me for as long as I can have her with me," said Moteisha Mathis, Laquisha Mathis' sister. "It's a day-to-day struggle. We have to save face and act like everything is normal, but we can't sleep at night. Our whole life is stopped literally because that's a death sentence,"

"If anybody knows any kind of resource that can help me with my case, so that I can have my procedure done. so that I can be here and watch my kids get grown and watch them have kids, I will be extremely thankful for every little thing," Laquisha Mathis said.

Her doctor told News4Jax, she needs $500,000 for the transplant and another $500,000 for post-surgery checkups.

Click here if you would like to help Laquisha Mathis get a heart transplant.

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