GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - 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.
Spectrum Health's Heart & Lung Specialized Care Clinics informed Hedda Martin in a Nov. 20 letter that she isn't eligible for the transplant because she doesn't have secure financing for drugs needed to keep her body from rejecting the new organ, The Detroit Free Press reported.
Martin posted the letter to her Facebook page the next day, explaining that the hospital wanted to ensure she could afford the $700 monthly fee for the anti-rejection drugs while her health insurance plan's yearly deductible is $4,500.
Spectrum Health said it has a duty to make sure donor organs "remain viable" and that costs are a factor in the decision-making process.
"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 hospital said.
Democratic Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York drew attention to the situation through a tweet on Saturday that criticized the fundraising recommendation, saying that it leaves people to "die if they can't raise the goal in time."
Martin told MLive.com that she believes Spectrum administrators could've handled the situation better.
"I will get better and I will fight to my last breath the injustice and greed in our health care and pharmaceutical sectors," Martin said.
Martin's son, Alex Britt, said her congestive heart failure is related to chemotherapy she received in 2005 for breast cancer. Britt started a GoFundMe page for Martin, which has reached more than $17,000 as of Monday.