A Grand Rapids woman needs a new heart, but the 60-year-old mom was rejected as a transplant candidate because she didn’t have the money to pay for follow-up care. The rejection letter from the Spectrum Health Richard DeVos Heart and Lung Transplant Center instructed the ailing woman to start a “fundraising effort,” then apply again for a heart transplant.
Hedda Martin posted the rejection letter she received from the Grand Rapids clinic to Facebook and it’s since gone viral.
“The decision made by the committee is that you are not a candidate at this time for a heart transplant due to needing a more secure financial plan for immunosuppressive medication coverage. The committee is recommending a fundraising effort of $10,000,” stated the letter dated Nov. 20.
Martin’s son did start a GoFundMe campaign Sunday that raised nearly $28,000 as of Monday afternoon.
The hospital system declined an interview with Newschannel 3, but sent a written statement.
Spectrum Health acknowledged in the statement that a candidate’s ability to pay is a factor in transplant decisions.
“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,” Spectrum said in the statement. “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.”
Martin developed congestive heart failure due to a complication from chemotherapy treatment.
The $10,000 required is to cover a 20 percent copay for two years of anti-rejection drugs.
“The transplant team does not want to ‘waste’ a vital organ if she cannot afford heart rejection drugs.” Martin’s GoFundMe page states. “However, they are not even willing to put her on the list knowing it would still give her time to raise money over a year or so through family.”
Martin and her son did not respond to interview requests Monday.
In a Facebook post Monday morning, Martin wrote she’s requested her case be brought to the Spectrum’s transplant board again Tuesday, now that’s she’s raised more than the $10,000 required to pay for post-transplant care.
Spectrum Health’s full statement regarding patient seeking transplant:
“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.”