After surviving breast cancer, Michigan resident Hedda Martin was devastated to learn she was being denied a heart transplant, made necessary due to damage her heart sustained during the chemotherapy that saved her life.
The hospital sent Martin, 60, a letter explaining it could not approve her transplant until she had the financial means to pay for post-surgery medication — and recommended she begin a “fundraising effort of $10,000.”
"The committee is recommending a fundraising effort of $10,000," the letter said, signed by a clinical transplant coodinator at Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Clicnc (sic) in Grand Rapids.
Privacy laws prevent the hospital on verifying the letter, according to spokewoman Beth Cranson, but the hospital did issue a statement related to transplants, which said, in part: "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." The full statement is contained in this story.
Reached for comment, Martin confirmed the contents of the letter:
"It’s a shame we have to beg for health care funding," she replied to WHTC's inquiry. On Twitter, where she shared a link to a GoFundMe account her son Alex set up, she wrote, "Our system is so flawed."
Martin’s social media posts have gone viral, even getting picked up by newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose tweet about the story has garnered nearly 25,000 retweets.
Martin's GoFundMe, as of 7:15 a.m. Sunday. Nov. 25, 2018, had garnered $11,207. At some point on Sunday, the goal was raised from the original $10,000 to $20,000. Her son started the effort, writing, in part, "Congestive Heart Failure induced by 2005 chemotherapy for aggressive breast cancer. The chemo damaged her heart beyond repair. Doxorubicin Cardiomyopathy. After many different heart treatments, in January 2017 she was forced onto disability and into the Meijer Heart Center Heart Failure Clinic. After many medications and treatments, her doctor referred her for a LVAD Left Ventricular Assist Device as a bridge while awaiting a new heart. Mom is a young, 60, and has at least 20 more years of life in her...if she can get a new heart. She was an active dog walker and pet sitter locally, Urban Tails."
Martin's son said the money would cover the 20 percent copay his mother needs to cover two years worth of anti-rejection drugs.