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Healthcare Up Close and Personal


It seems there are times when the scope of a challenge is so large, a solution seems indescribable. One way to deal with these enormities is to reduce the scope to a personal example.

Summer Ellen, or Elle, as her parents call her, was four months in the womb when the doctors told her parents of a very serious medical condition. She would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. In the normal heart, oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, travels to the right ventricle, and then is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs where it receives oxygen. Oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle, and then is pumped out to the body through the aorta. In Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, most of the structures on the left side of the heart are small and underdeveloped. If not corrected, the baby will only live for about two weeks after birth.

The first time her father saw her, Elle was three days old. She was in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and, due to swelling, her chest was still open from the surgery that had been performed that morning. Over the next seven years, she would have a total of three more open heart surgeries, numerous catheterizations, and two brain surgeries for a related abnormality called a Chiari Malformation.

At nine years old, Elle is a beautiful young lady with big blue eyes and long golden hair. She is intelligent, loving, and artistic. At times, she can also be bratty and mischievous. In other words, she is a regular kid.

Elle has been very lucky to have had government-funded healthcare throughout her life. Without it, she would have denied insurance coverage due to having a preexisting condition – at birth. Her family would have been financially devastated, even though both of her parents had full-time employment. Even now, she will fall off her father’s coverage at age 18, unless she is a college student. As a student, she can remain covered until 23. At 23 years old, under today’s healthcare system, Elle will no longer have access to medical care.

I write this to ask you to support President Obama’s healthcare reform, House Resolution 3200, which will provide a public option and will nearly eliminate any uncovered citizens or denial based on preexisting conditions.

I also write this to thank you for giving Elle a life.

She is my daughter, and her healthcare is government-provided TriCare, due to my Navy career. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for allowing doctors to fix her heart.

Your brother, Doug

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 10:59 am and is filed under Health Care, Issues. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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