On November 24, a letter began circulating on social media. It was sent out by an insurance company to a patient named Hedda Martin, a 60 year old woman who has been told that she needs a heart transplant. The transplant clinic told Hedda — who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan — that she didn’t qualify to get a heart transplant because she didn’t have a “secure financial plan” to pay for the expensive medications which are typically needed by heart transplant patients.
The clinic suggested that Hedda should start a “fundraising effort” to raise the 10,000 dollars she needs to pay for the medication.
After outraged politicians and ordinary people shared the letter on social media, somebody finally did start a crowdfunding campaign to pay for Hedda’s medication. You can make a donation to the GoFundMe campaign here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hedda Developed Congestive Heart Failure While Being Treated for Breast Cancer
Hedda’s son started the GoFundMe campaign to help pay for the medication his mother would need if she underwent a heart transplant. He described her as a “funny, bright, compassionate” woman who loves life. Back in 2005, Hedda developed an aggressive form of breast cancer which was treated with chemotherapy. The treatment cured her cancer but damaged her heart beyond repair.
Hedda’s son wrote that after many failed treatments for her heart condition, Hedda was forced to retire from work on disability. That’s when doctors first recommended that she try to get a heart transplant. However, heart transplant patients are required to take expensive immuno-suppressive drugs so that their bodies do not reject the new organ. That’s what Hedda and her family are asking for funds to pay for.
2. Hedda Is a Single Mother With a Great Love of Life
Hedda’s son writes about his mother with a lot of love. He says that she is a single mother who raised him on her own. He describes her as warm, caring, and hospitable:
“Ask anyone who knows her and they will tell you she is funny, bright, compassionate, loyal and witty. She loves life. Loves her garden. Loves her antique 1954 Schwinn bicycle. Loves her cats and animal rescue efforts and loves her garden. Mom is someone who you can sit at her kitchen table and coffee and pastry will appear and she will visit with friends all day if that is what is needed. She learned a lot of German hospitality from her upbringing.”
3. Hedda Worked as a Dog Walker to Scrape Together Money to Supplement Her Small Income
When Hedda developed congestive heart failure, she was suddenly unable to work, and she was forced to retire on disability. But Hedda, whom her son described as brave, energetic, and determined, continued to work within her limited ability. She supplemented her income by walking dogs and by doing pet-sitting in her area.
Hedda’s GoFundMe page is seeking to raise $10,000 so that she can pay the co-pay needed to cover an estimated $10,000 in costs for immuno-suppressors. The transplant clinic told her that she cannot be considered for a heart transplant unless she manages to raise those $10,0000.
4. Politicians Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar Shared The Insurance Letter That Hedda Received
Hedda’s letter drew a lot of attention on November 24. Politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar shared the letter on Twitter, voicing their outrage that doctors appear to be encouraging patients to use crowdfunding as a way of paying for their medical treatment. The tweet apparently was first sent out by Dan Radzikowski, a voice teacher and actor and self-declared Progressive.
Finally, Hedda’s son, Alex Britt, actually did start a crowdfunding campaign for his mother, opening up a GoFundMe page called Hedda’s Heart Transplant.
5. Just Two Hours After It Was Launched, the GoFundMe Campaign Had Raised Over $5,000
The GoFundMe campaign aims to raise $10,000. That’s the sum that Hedda needs just to cover the copay on the immunosuppressors that she’ll need to take if she gets a heart transplant. The clinic won’t even consider her for a transplant unless she is able to pay for the drugs. (Without those drugs, her body would reject the new organ, “wasting” it, the clinic told her.)
Just two hours after the campaign was launched, it had already raised $5,558 of the $10,000 goal.