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Living Donor Risks Living Kidney Donor

Kidney Donor Billed For Complications – & He’s Not the Only One

http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/2009/11/01/1101donors.html

(read the whole article; below are excerpts)

Knisely, a 53-year-old tax analyst for the state comptroller’s office, has received numerous notices that his insurance company was billed thousands of dollars by the hospital, doctors and other medical providers for treatment of post-surgery complications such as pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas. Knisely said he also has been billed directly several times and has been contacted by a collection agency because he wouldn’t pay.

Kimberly Tracy, a 51-year-old dialysis nurse who lives in Dayton, Ohio, donated a kidney to her nephew in 2001 and said she had to provide her insurance information to the hospital to get pain medication from the surgery.

“It was either that, or I was going to have to suck it up and go home without any,” she said. She ended up using her own insurance to pay for the medicine and other transplant-related bills, including a later surgery, she said.

Knisely said the hospital did not tell him that if ever he loses his insurance with the state comptroller’s office where he and Vara, 52, work, some insurers might consider a single kidney to be a pre-existing condition and a possible reason to deny future coverage.

Laura Odom, a 52-year-old mother of five in Wheaton, Ill., said after she donated part of her liver in 2002 to her sister-in-law, who had liver disease, she was billed incorrectly for the transplant and for treatment for later complications. She said it took about six months to straighten out the billing, but she’s had ongoing health problems since the transplant, including chronic pain and a grapefruit-sized hernia in her diaphragm that led to serious intestinal problems.

She can no longer get private insurance because she is considered to have a pre-existing medical condition, she said. She is on Medicaid now.

Everything was done so hurriedly to save her sister-in-law, she said, that she didn’t know that in the process of donating part of her liver doctors also would have to remove her gallbladder. That has contributed to her digestive problems, Odom said.

“In retrospect, I would have done things differently. I would have had a notebook and gotten things in writing,” Odom said. “I have a recipient who has her life back, and now I’m sicker than she is.”

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