Arizona Budget Cuts Put Some Organ Transplants Out of Reach

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Patients Nationwide Seeking Help for More Transplant Costs

Although the Arizona decision is one of the most drastic she's seen, Samson said she's observed that patients' families have begun turning to her for help beyond raising money for transportation to and from transplant centers, temporary housing while they're undergoing surgery, and anti-rejection drugs.

"Instead of just fundraising for those expenses, now people are being forced to fundraise for the entire transplant," Samson said.

Felix had been on the liver transplant waiting list since April. As of 5:42 p.m. Wednesday, there were 16,091 Americans waiting for a donor liver, according to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, part of the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. By 7:01 p.m., that number had risen to 16,100.

Finding a New Way to a New Heart

Meanwhile, Randy Shepherd has been trying to find another way to obtain a new heart. In January, he'll qualify for Medicare disability insurance. But whereas the AHCCCS program would have covered 100 percent of his transplant if it had been performed before the Oct. 1 changes, Medicare only covers 80 percent, leaving him with "between $100,000 and $120,000 that we have to raise privately."

Even with a new heart, he said, "I'm told I'll probably never be able to be a plumber again. I'm actually going to school taking prerequisites to go into an RN program to be a nurse. Depending on how things work out, I might stay in school and become a pharmacist. I'm going to have a lot of medical bills to take care of when I start paying for them on my own."

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