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Woman rejected for transplant told to raise money via ‘fundraising effort’

It’s a story we hear all too often, when someone doesn’t have the means to pay for an expensive medical procedure. Maybe you know someone who has experienced a similar predicament.

In the past, options could be very limited in those situations. If you couldn’t afford it, then the doors to certain treatments were shut. Unfortunately in many cases, financial circumstances can also be the difference between life or death.

Enter crowdfunding. It seems to be used for everything these days, but it’s also become an important tool in trying to raise money to pay for treatments that can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Just last year, nearly $1 billion was raised through GoFundMe for medical campaigns. It’s become so common, a health committee that recently rejected a woman’s request for a heart transplant recommended that she set up such a fundraiser. And only when the money was raised would they reconsider her request.

A story of survival and new challenges

After surviving breast cancer more than a decade ago, Hedda Martin is now experiencing congestive heart failure. A heart transplant will be necessary to keep her alive.

This past September, her condition worsened. Then it was up to a heart transplant committee at Spectrum Health Richard Devos Heart and Lung Transplant Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to decide her eligibility for a transplant. But Martin received news no one in that situation would want to hear.

Bonus: 8 ways to protect yourself from a medical data breach

The committee decided that she was “not a candidate at this time for a heart transplant due to needing more secure finance plan for immunosuppressive medical coverage.” Basically, she didn’t have access to funds for the drugs necessary to keep her body from rejecting a new heart. And it’s becoming apparent that hospitals are now taking notice of using crowdfunding to pay for medical treatment, because they instead suggested that she raise the $10,000 via that method. If and when the money was raised, Martin said via Facebook post, the committee would reconsider her status.

The cost of staying alive

After the committee’s decision, Martin’s family went to work. Her daughter set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe this past weekend. Of course, most of the people responding to the post were outraged and pitched in to help Martin. Her post went viral, and as of late Monday morning, nearly $17,000 of a now $20,000 goal has been raised.

It’s now unclear how the committee will respond, or how long it will take for them to reconsider Martin’s application. The hospital told Splinter that it doesn’t comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns, but said the general decision-making process for transplants is complicated and difficult. The statement also said that “costs are sometimes a regrettable and unavoidable factor in the decision-making process.”

Cost of heart transplant graphic

In the meantime, Martin is scheduled to get a Left Ventricular Assist Device to help keep her alive.

Do you want to hear more? Listen to Kim’s take via her Consumer Tech Update below. App background

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