For some of you who know my daughter, you may be surprised to know that almost 19 years ago, she was diagnosed with Hepatitic C. We believe she contracted this virus close to 30 years ago when she worked in the medical field as a phlebotomist for a clinic in a high risk area of Los Angeles from a needle stick. Her genotype is 1a, which is the most resistant strain. Over the 30 years she has had this virus, her condition has now progressed to a severe life threatening stage.
For close to 19 years now being mostly self-employed, due to her pre-existing illness, she has been unable to get health insurance. Her disease has put her in the "˜high-risk' category with health insurance companies where premiums start at about $950/mo and then exclude her illness. The new Obamacare policies we've looked at have lower premiums than that, but are still too expensive for her budget. The ones that are affordable have such a high deductable that it would be completely useless. So she remains uninsured.
During this past summer, she was sent to the emergency room due to a low platelet count of 54,000 units (where 150,000 - 450,000 is normal range). Without insurance, she was unable to receive treatment without a recommended ultrasound, which she could not afford to pay out of pocket. This week she had tests run through a free clinic which showed results of a severely low blood platelet count of 24,000. They paid up front for her ultrasound, asking for her to find a way to cover half of it when she could. The ultrasound found that she had a 2x2" cyst in her liver and enlarged spleen. Her condition has greatly worsened over the last few months, and in addition to the above diagnosis, ongoing, she also hardly sleeps at night due to unceasing itching over her whole body, which seems to be common among HCV sufferers. She is now constantly fatigued and feels generally ill.
Even with these symptoms, she had been working full time for a company that offered benefits but was laid off with others from her job just before she was going to be eligible for them. In Texas, this seems to have become a common practice and a part of many companies business plans, as Texas is an at-will state for employers. There is no protection for employees as there are no penalties for companies to hire and fire whimsically as they are not required to have a reason to terminate, hence the "at will" status.
She did go to a free clinic to get the above-mentioned blood and imaging tests, but they cannot do more than that as she must go to a specialist for a treatment plan. She tried to sign up for Medicaid this summer when she went to the ER, but in Texas, she was disqualified being an adult. For the most part, Medicaid in Texas is only for children. They said they had no medical program to help her.
At this time, she is in need of funding to help her see a specialist in this field, a gastroenterologist who can determine the next steps to take in treatment, and to help pay for the medication she'll need to get her disease under control. We are VERY excited to find out that there is a drug in the final stages of FDA approval (approval date is set for 12/8/2013) that will most likely be a cure for HCV, even for genotype 1, which is hers. The efficacy rate is close to 100% with a relatively short course of treatment. We are hoping to get her on that protocol so that this virus will cease the ongoing damage to her liver and give it a chance to recover. The liver is quite amazing with it's regenerative abilities! We have high hopes for a complete recovery! She is also moving to her sister's organic farm to take a long needed break from the stress and be able to heal and regroup. This move will cost her close to $900. Without a job, she could use a little help with that in addition to the medical costs.
My daughter has always been a constant hard worker and a dedicated single mom focused on raising her now 18 year old daughter, who just graduated High School and is now heading off to college. She has always been the kind of person to step up and help people (or animals!) when a need arose, even when she did not have means herself. It would not be uncommon to find her housing her daughters teenage friends who found themselves in transition or need of housing until they finished school or reconciled with family. She always said "Food, I can afford. It doesn't cost me to put a roof over their head" although, often she couldn't afford the food! But somehow, she made things happen. That's what she does! When something looks impossible, just ask Terri to help. It'll happen.
I know that the holidays are just around the corner, and she hated the idea of asking for help at all, but she has broken down and agreed to posting her need on "Go Fund Me. If you are able to help in any way, large or small, you would be part of a huge blessing for her and it would be wonderful to relieve her of the some of the stress and strain of worrying about her finances while she tries to get treatment and fight to restore her health. God bless and happy holidays from my family to yours!
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