New mother dying of Covid denied lung transplant by medical insurance as it’s too expensive

‘I cannot, will not let my sister die when her baby is waiting for her,’ says patient’s sister

Helen Elfer
Tuesday 12 October 2021 15:58
Comments
California COVID death count reaches 70,000
Leer en Español

A woman who gave birth to a premature baby and remains in hospital fighting for her life against Covid has been denied a lung transplant by her health insurers.

Gabriela Acuna delayed getting vaccinated due to her pregnancy, and caught the virus in August, according to her sister Paula Olmeda. Her condition rapidly deteriorated and she was admitted to hospital with failing lungs and heart.

On a GoFundMe page set up by Ms Olmeda, she says her sister’s care was complicated by her pregnancy and the hospital held off using a ventilator and other treatments because of risk to the foetus. Her family was unable to visit her due to Covid restrictions at the hospital.

Ms Olmeda wrote: “Gaby fought and fought for 2 weeks as her family watched helplessly through FaceTime. Everyone wanted the baby to reach at least 30 weeks before they would take him out but at 26 weeks pregnant she was dying, and her heart was now at risk.”

After an emergency caesarian section, Ms Acuna’s baby Ryden was born weighing just 1 pound and 10 ounces on September 13.

Having survived multiple lungs collapses and a cardiac arrest, Ms Acuna was then told she needed a lung transplant and was approved for the procedure.

Her family was told she would be airlifted from her Las Vegas hospital to a specialist California unit, but Nevada Medicaid denied the treatment at the last minute, and the helicopter that had arrived to collect Ms Acuna flew off without her.

The family learned the following day that the state of Nevada does not approve lung transplants.

“There are no words to describe that moment,” said Ms Olmeda.

According to News 3LV Nevada Medicaid said in a statement: “A lung transplant is not a covered service with Nevada Medicaid.”

Ms Olmeda said: “I cannot, will not let my sister die when her baby is waiting for her, when she came back from the dead and continues to fight for her life. I know she’s on borrowed time. She cannot survive in her current state.”

So far the GoFundMe page has raised $47,457 of its $2,500,000 goal, which is the amount needed for the surgery.

Ms Aucuna’s family is appealing the Medicaid decision.

The Independent has contacted Nevada Medicaid for comment.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in