Grand Rapids woman denied heart transplant due to lack of money

Grand Rapids woman denied heart transplant due to lack of money
Michigan hospital suggests fundraising for heart transplant
A hospital system based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has denied a heart transplant to an ailing 60-year-old woman, recommending that she first try to fund raise $10,000 on her own.

In a Nov. 20 letter that has since gone viral on social media, a nurse with Spectrum Healths Heart & Lung Specialized Care Clinics told the patient a heart transplant committee determined she isnt currently eligible for the transplant because she needs more secure financing for the expensive immunosuppresive drugs necessary to keep her body from rejecting the new organ.

The patient, Hedda Martin of Grand Rapids, reportedly posted Spectrums rejection letter on her personal Facebook page.

The letter spread on social media over the weekend, including shares by prominent incoming U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, an advocate of single-payer health insurance, who confused Spectrum with an insurance company in her tweet.

Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy – where customers can die if they cant raise the goal in time – but sure, single payer healthcare is unreasonable. h/t @DanRiffle pic.twitter.com/zetPW0MgDd

A Spectrum representative was not available Sunday for an interview, but the health system issued a general statement about the situation on its website, noting they dont comment on specific cases to protect privacy.

“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 said. “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.”

Martins son, Alex Britt, set up a GoFundMe page that, as of Monday morning, had raised more than $15,000 for the anti-rejection medication.

The page says Martin has life-threatening congestive heart failure as a result of damage to her heart from 2005 chemotherapy for breast cancer.

She has been unable to work since 2017 and needs a ventricular assist pump implanted in her body as a “bridge” until she can get a new heart.

“The heart transplant team met and decide that mom needed to fund-raise $10,000 to be considered for a new heart,” the son wrote. “The transplant team does not want to waste a vital organ if she cannot afford heart rejection drugs.”

Video: Heart transplant patient told to GoFundMe

Mlive reported that a Facebook post on Martins Facebook page – since taken down –said that Spectrum wanted to make sure that she could pay the $700 monthly cost of the anti-rejection drugs, considering that her health insurance plan has a $4,500 yearly deductible.

Martins insurance would presumably cover the full cost of the drugs once she meets that deductible.

The letter Hedda Martin received from Spectrum Health informing her that she would need raise more money for a heart transplant. (Courtesy)

The letter Hedda Martin received from Spectrum Health informing her that she would need raise more money for a heart transplant. (Courtesy)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — A Grand Rapids-based hospital system has denied a heart transplant to a 60-year-old woman because of funding concerns, recommending instead that she fundraise $10,000 for the procedure on her own.

Hedda Martin received a letter from Spectrum Health’s Heart & Lung Specialized Care Clinics that said she wasn’t eligible for the transplant because she didn't have financing for drugs needed to keep her body from rejecting the new organ.

Martin posted the letter to her Facebook page the next day. Martin tells MLive.com that she believes Spectrum administrators could've handled the situation better.

Spectrum Health says it has a duty to make sure donor organs "remain viable" and that costs are a factor in the decision-making process.

"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."


Posted in Grand Rapids