A medical center in Grand Rapids, Mich., is facing backlash after apparently recommending that a woman try “fundraising” to be able to afford a heart transplant.
According to a post on Facebook, Hedda Martin recently received a letter from the Spectrum Health Richard Devos Heart and Lung Transplant Clinic alerting her that she is not a candidate for a heart transplant “due to needing more secure financial plan for immunosuppressive medication coverage.” The letter states that the clinic’s committee is “recommending a fundraising effort of $10,000.”
The single mom posted photos of the letter she received on Facebook, and the post began to pick up steam. According to Detroit news station WDIV, she has since removed the viral post.
Still, people like Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York began sharing her story, racking up 71K likes and 28K retweets.
Many cannot believe that a hospital is suggesting someone who cannot afford medication start a fundraising campaign in order to receive treatment. “@GoFundMe IS NOT HEALTHCARE” one person tweeted.
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 (@Ocasio2018) November 24, 2018
I’m going to go out on a limb here..
The greatest healthcare system in the world shouldn’t be asking insured patients to establish gofundme campaigns for lifesaving treatment.
SpectrumHealth is projected to profit >$210 million in FY2018. The patient is expected to die. pic.twitter.com/Js6tZgx15i
— Barry Schapiro MD (@bschapiroMD) November 25, 2018
Jokes about how GoFundMe is becoming an integral part of our insane health insurance system are no longer funny. pic.twitter.com/47DrOXsc1r
— Every billionaire is a policy failure (@DanRiffle) November 24, 2018
— Ryan Graney (@RyanEGraney) November 23, 2018
With no other options, Martin’s son, Alex Britt, set up a GoFundMe on Saturday with a goal of raising $20,000 to help his mom get a new heart.
“On Friday, Nov 16, mom went into the hospital heart failure unit for the 2nd time in 35 days,” Britt explained on the GoFundMe page. “Imagine [the] disappointment when she was told she was denied [a device used as a bridge to a transplant] due to finances.”
He explained that his mom needs a new heart due to “severe life threatening Congestive Heart Failure induced by 2005 chemotherapy for aggressive breast cancer.” The chemo allegedly “damaged her heart beyond repair,” he wrote. “After many medications and treatments, her doctor referred her for a LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) as a bridge while awaiting a new heart.”
He explained that his mom was denied care because “the transplant team does not want to ‘waste’ a vital organ if she cannot afford heart rejection drugs. Understandably.” If they gave her more time, she would be able to raise the money herself with the help of her family, he pointed out.
The heart transplant team suggested that Martin raise $10,000. Britt explained that this money would cover the 20 percent copay needed for two years of anti-rejection drugs. “We need to get mom on the heart transplant list. She can go before the transplant team again on March 26, 2019,” he wrote.
In an interview with Holland, Mich., radio station WHTC, Martin said, “It’s a shame we have to beg for health care funding.”
She also lamented our “flawed” health care system on Twitter.
Supporters of Martin are expressing their disgust by trolling Spectrum Health’s social media posts with negative comments about the alleged fundraising suggestion.
Maybe stop telling people to do a GoFundMe to pay for their health care costs.
— Govind Acharya (@gringostani) November 24, 2018
Spectrum Health be like:
>donate to our foundation to provide care
>tells a patient to start a GoFundMe in lieu of paying for immunosuppressives
— East Coast Kojevian (@EFMememacher) November 24, 2018
How about you give people the insurance and health care they deserve instead of telling them to use a GoFundMe to pay for a life saving operation?
— That One Guy (@poetgambler) November 24, 2018
Your denial of Heddas transplant.
IS PROFIT ABOVE PATIENT.PHARMACOLOGY COMPANIES SUPPLY FREE DRUGS TO UNINSURED OR UNDERINSURED COMPANIES.
— RN_Centrist (@CentristRn) November 26, 2018
I’m thinking of crowdfunding my way in.
— Nux (@the_warboy_nux) November 25, 2018
Spectrum Health would not comment on Martin’s specific case but provided a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle.
“Spectrum Health cares deeply about every patient that enters its doors and provides each of them the highest quality of care possible,” the statement read. “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.”
The statement also explained that decisions around transplants are “highly complex” and “difficult.”
“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,” the statement read.
It said its employees “work closely” with patients “to identify opportunities for financial assistance.”
While Spectrum Health sent a letter to inform Martin of this grim life-changing decision, it said its 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.”
There’s hope for Martin, though, because she has raised more than what Spectrum Health recommended. As of Monday evening, more than $28,000 has been raised on the GoFundMe page.
Martin has not responded to Yahoo’s request for comment.
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