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Friday, December 28, 2007

Common Sense? Or Corporate Neglect?

This week a promising young girl died from liver failure that followed a leukemia bone marrow transplant.

The insurance company, managing a self-insuring employer, claims it consulted with an in-house transplant expert and two outside doctors about her situation, then determined that the liver transplant she desperately needed was experimental and not covered under the insurance policy of her father's employer.

Then, supposedly out of the goodness of their hearts, they decided to pay for the procedure themselves, but only after family and friends of the girl began picketing outside their offices. Nothing gets the attention of companies like that quicker than bad publicity and public relations. But it was too late.

At the funeral, no one mentioned the insurance company's name, but apparently they will in court.

From what I have learned of such matters, once an organ fails a leukemia patient, their chances of living, even after such a transplant, are slim. We, as a society want to be compassionate, yet we must many times draw a line to this compassion. Doctors have to decide if one patient who needs the same organ might have a better chance of survival, for example. At this very moment, in an apartment across from mine, lives a child who is not even two years old who is awaiting a liver transplant. The doctors say, if they can find one in time, she has an excellent chance of getting to see her grandchildren.

It is not an easy choice to decide who lives and who dies. I for one do not envy any doctor who has to make such a decision, but it is the doctors caring for the patient who should make such decisions in cases like this, not insurance providers.

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