As some of you may already know, my husband, Steve, suffers from a heart condition. He was initially having cough, chest pain, and fatigue issues that he shrugged off but it didn’t go away and was worsening. In early 2018, Steve’s primary doctor heard a strong heart murmur and referred him to a pulmonologist and cardiologist. He was told by the pulmonologist he may have asthma but the medicines weren’t working and his health started to deteriorate. When he heard Steve’s heart murmur, he recommended a cardiologist who then began a series of tests to determine the cause.
After having an electrocardiogram, ultrasound echo, and nuclear stress test, it was determined that Steve had Mitral Valve Prolapse with Severe Regurgitation. What this means is that Steve’s mitral valve isn’t closing and blood is leaking or flowing backwards.
On August 10, 2018, Steve had two invasive procedures at the hospital: cardiac catheterization & echo (TEE). These tests determined that Steve needs life saving open heart surgery to repair/replace his mitral valve. The doctor said that it needs to be taken care of right away -- no longer than 2 months.
Since then, we have gone through the process of finding a surgeon. The first surgeon recommended did not take his insurance. The kindness shown by the owner of Circle BMW (where Steve works) touched our hearts immensely. He made a few phone calls to see if the first surgeon would take his insurance. Unfortunately, we were told that we would still incur a large bill not realizing that the owner of Circle BMW had arranged differently. Since time is of the essence, we proceeded with the 2nd recommended surgeon who is located farther away in Newark, NJ. http://mjr.barnabasheart.org/
Valve repair or replacement surgery is done in an operating room under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision in the breastbone (sternum), called a median sternotomy, to open the chest and gain access to the heart.
To repair or replace the valve, the heart must be stopped temporarily. While the heart is stopped, a heart-lung machine (cardiopulmonary bypass machine) functions like the heart and lungs, circulating blood and providing oxygen to the body. Fluids, nutrients, and medications may be added to the blood while it passes through the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. The procedure generally lasts between two and four hours.
Steve is approaching the maximum out of pocket expense and deductible on his health insurance but it has been a financial struggle to meet all the co-payments, medicines, time off work, etc. as he is our sole income provider.
Steve will be going on disability through his work. Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit of time to receive the first payment and they do not calculate the commission Steve brings home which is the majority of his income. This is going to make it nearly impossible to keep up with household bills, future co-payments, medicines, and so on.
Steve and I are extremely grateful for the help from his mother, Karen, as she has been driving us to appointments & relieving a majority of the stress of this situation. Steve's sister, Tracy, and her family have also been a great support helping out with house repairs. Thank you!
Steve’s surgery will be on Thursday, September 13, 2018.
This is where we need your help. The recovery time can vary from patient to patient but is expected to be between 6-8 weeks.
It would be a huge relief for Steve to be able to focus on the surgery and recovering instead of worrying how to pay for all the medical bills and living expenses. We estimate that in order to get caught up on household bills, pay current ones, meet co-payments, and medicine that Steve would need $10,000. This is an estimate and I will update as time progresses to give a more accurate figure. Right now there are too many unknowns.
On a selfish level, I need Steve to be around for a very long time. In 2014, I met Steve on Facebook and he was my rock every day (for 3 months) when I had to go to an infusion center for IV treatment for late stage lyme disease. Once I was well enough, I flew to New Jersey and knew he was my soul mate. We married on November 10, 2015. Steve makes me a better person and I want to be able to be his rock now.
Here is my favorite picture of me and Steve:
Please consider helping Steve with his open heart surgery and recovery. We would be forever grateful.
You can help by:
- Donating any amount to “Steve’s Open Heart Surgery” GoFundMe.
- Sharing this on Facebook and other social media outlets like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Prayers are welcome!
Thank you in advance for your love and support.
Katie (Felsing) Hultay
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