Emory Healthcare Denies Kidney Transplant to 2 Year Old Based on Father’s Parole Violation

The phone rang this evening waking me from a sound sleep. It was a friend from one of my chronic illness groups on the other end. “You’ve got to hear this!”, a sense of urgency in her voice on the other end. “I thought you would want to know that Emory has done it again. This time they’re denying a 2 year old boy a kidney transplant!” She related to me the story of a family who was being blatantly discriminated against simply because the boy’s father, Anthony Dickerson, the potential donar and a match, had been jailed for a parole violation.

Initially it appeared that they were willing to work with the family and that the only stipulation holding up the life-saving surgery was that the child’s father needed to come in to have some preliminary pre-op bloodwork done on September 29th, but as the man was still in jail and could not be released by the date Emory had requested he come in, by the time he was released it seemed suddenly all bets were off.

What had started out as a relatively simple hurdle to overcome now became a growing list of demands and scrutiny made by the Emory Living Donor Transplant team; now requiring Mr. Dickerson to supply evidence of compliance with his parole officer for 3 months before his son would be considered again. The the only option now given the family  was the regular transplant list. We all know that many have died without expedited transplant offered by such hospital teams, and for a young child who was born premature with malfunctioning kidneys such a wait could very likely result in his early death.

Although none of us witnessed what went on in that meeting behind closed doors, it is more likely that Emory’s top officials such as its Chief Medical Officer, whose letter to me denying me care at a crucial time; copy uploaded in a previous post, were the real ones behind these new obstacles placed in the family’s path.  Emory keeps its doctors on a short leash, especially where it concerns delicate matters that might garner bad publicity for the biggest healthcare system in Georgia. There is little doubt that risk management and their legal department were consulted regarding the ramifications this situation might have for Emory, possible liability and/or possible negative impact on its public image. For all the cases that go public there are probably many more that are routinely brushed under the rug, patients too exhausted and demoralized to fight for their rights.

One might ask “Can’t they just go to another hospital for the transplant”? but in this state it’s not as simple as one would assume. Patients that are outcast from Emory’s system find themselves in an ongoing awkward situation in approaching other local doctors and hospitals for the care they need, as although there are facilities not directly owned or affiliated with Emory, there is almost always a soft connection somewhere; either that doctor or hospital utilizes Emory’s medical equipment, labs, certain clinics, or they have a “one-hand-washes-the-other” working relationship in which they give mutual referrals. This is even true with their direct competitors to some extent. Therefore this child’s father would likely face the same scrutiny at these other local facilities as at Emory, and there is no telling what has been written in the records regarding the boy’s father’s criminal record and the requirements placed on him for his son to receive the transplant any time in the future. De’Aja Asbury has created an online petition similar to the one that was created for me. The petition can be accessed at https://www.change.org/p/emory-hospital-approve-life-saving-kidney-transplant-for-2-year-old-boy-before-it-s-too-late

A local news team has covered the story. See this footage below;

At this point the family’s best chance for this child’s survival is to try to get a compassionate release for the child’s father so that they can go to an impartial hospital for the transplant, as soon as possible. They will most likely have to approach officials on the federal level in order to have a fair chance of having their request accepted. Godspeed to this child in getting the surgery he needs.

 

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A Few Lateral Moves, but an Ace In The Hole

Luck

Last week I saw my Pulmonologist. Although I was nervous after recent events that he would have doubts about me I was pleasantly surprised to find him just as warm as ever and I think in fact that his learning of the ER debacle only cemented our bond further. Much as these cliquish people would like to see all my doctor/patient relationships destroyed they are not getting their wish. My pulmonologist was hoping I would have already gotten in to Dr. G’s clinic by now, and was appalled at what had happened to me at the ER in December.

This is the one doctor who the evil Dr. M. and his group of bullies cannot screw around, intimidate, nor manipulate, as he is very meticulous about his documentation and he backs up his diagnoses with good, hard data. He is not arrogant (which is nice), but he has the courage of his convictions and is genuinely a good guy who really wants to help his patients. I told him I figure my chances now of ever getting into Dr. G’s clinic are most likely blown due to the actions of those ER doctors and their libelous statements. He said he was not so sure about that. Seriously, I could just hug him right now!

He is the one doctor whom none of the 4 person wrecking crew tried to attack; they knew that if they dared try challenge his work that he would mop the floor with them, as his positions are backed up by 3 sleep studies and he’s pretty iron-clad.

What they didn’t realize is that Dr. T., who is a perfectly good neurologist (but works in the Sleep Lab) looked at those sleep study tapes in order to diagnose my Myoclonus. She, unlike Dr. M., does have a background in Movement Disorders and it was not hard for her to diagnose by seeing the movements in action. Dr. M. and Dr. T.T.J. (neither of which have published in medical journals had arrogantly decided to disregard Dr. T’s diagnosis  based on the gross tests done at Piedmont Hospital. I guess they underestimated her. She has published on sleep disorders as early indicators of neurological disease, by the way.

Nice try, dufuses, but it’s not always due to a structural lesion. It can be neurochemical or electrical in origin and still be very real.

Sometimes doctors in the ER really make fools of themselves when they think they know everything.

My Myoclonus continues to this day (and not only upon falling asleep, although mostly. It also manifests in my shoulders when I get too cold), and it has responded to Keppra at 1000 Mgs./day, reducing the severity and how long it goes on quite a bit. It was Dr. T. who put me on it, and Dr. W. (the admitting neurologist at Piedmont) who increased the dosage to an optimum level. Although it’s not a cure, the fact that it vastly reduces it tells us that the drug is acting on some pathway in the brain. It is highly unlikely to be placebo effect or chances are by now I would be back to being kept awake until 7 AM each night. Thankfully I am not.

It’s been more than disappointing; the non-advocacy provided by Emory’s “Patient Advocate”, T. J., who showed her obvious bias after only our second phone conversation, and still has not answered my questions entirely regarding whom she asked what during her mickey mouse investigation, but I believe that eventually I will be vindicated and those who sought to discredit me and sabotage my healthcare will suffer the consequences of their malicious actions, and so will she for being so dismissive of my very legitimate grievance.

I have had shortness of breath on and off throughout the appearance of these neuromuscular symptoms which seems to come in clusters and then I don’t have it for a few weeks or months, but then it comes back. I’ve had it several times over the past few weeks, and again tonight while sitting upright.

Tomorrow morning I go for some pulmonary function tests which will likely add some more data which will help flesh out my condition further. Dr. M. and his bunch of groupies are probably not capable of understanding the significance this has in neurological disease or at best have a very basic understanding of it, but I’m pretty certain it will completely escape them as it applies to a condition as complex as mine. If they are reading this post I will leave them to vex over it all night.

On Friday I will go into the Lion’s Den (the dreaded Emory General Neurology Department) where I have an appointment with one of their neurologists I’ve never met. I was going to cancel it, as this woman has no reviews online (good or bad), and I don’t like going in blind after what happened, but on second thought figured even though it could be a trap given Macdonald’s connection with the department head, there are ways in which it could actually end up being helpful. (I won’t elaborate on that just now as I don’t want to show my hand to certain people who may not have the best of intentions). I will see what this woman is about and go from there. I just hope she’s not sneaky like Dr. H. and hope she’s not rude or a cold fish. My trust has been violated so I will not be so quick to believe her words and intentions as I might have been before the traumatic event happened. She will no doubt have to earn my trust. First hint of deceptiveness or working against me and she’s history.

Mayo Clinic is a no-go. After my initial inquiry at the particular location I checked on it turns out that they have nothing available until next January and so any patients with conditions of a neurological nature are not being booked at all right now.

My GP is finally coming to terms with my Dysautonomia after he received the erratic BP readings from my Piedmont records (which weren’t initially included, but housed in another department), and realizes that I am probably not going to feel any better until it is treated with IV saline infusion. Home healthcare is willing to send a nurse out to do the infusions but in order to prevent infection on an outpatient basis a port (central line) will  need to be put in my chest; a minor surgical procedure. Although this is not a cure it should help me feel better and get my autonomic nervous system to work more efficiently, as it did in the hospital.

Right now I have no energy, my pain has gotten more frequent and intense, I’ve felt faint more often lately, my constipation is still an ongoing problem despite being put on Linzess, it’s a struggle to hold myself up against gravity, and I feel as though I need to sleep 15 hours for every 1 hour of being up even to go to a doctor’s appointment. I just feel crappy all the way around. Increasing my salt intake and drinking ice water constantly has not been cutting it and each morning I wake up feeling so dehydrated I can hardly tolerate it. Ravenously thirsty, and as if my kidneys are toxic; head-achy and back and core achy.

As of yet the order has not been written, but he has agreed to it, so I think now it’s just a matter of when it will be written, as he knows I can’t go on like this forever. It is taking alot out of me just sitting up long enough to write this post. If it’s the wrecking crew he’s afraid of then screw them in the bootie, I say! The treatment options I pursue are my choice. Every patient should have the ultimate say as to what is and isn’t done with their own body.

There really needs to be a new Patients’ Bill of Rights drafted to address these types of issues. I’m sure there are many others who are going through similar struggles as I am. I’m going to be voting for Bernie Sanders in the upcoming Presidential election as I believe he most closely exemplifies the principles I stand for surrounding healthcare. I have written the Dept. of Health and Human Services periodically to bring some of these issues to their attention as they impact patient self-determination in ones healthcare.

To give input on healthcare topics important to you, write or call them toll free;

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Toll Free Call Center: 1-877-696-6775

The current Secretary is Silvia Mathews Burwell

If your healthcare rights have been violated, in addition to filing internal grievances with the facility, state facility regulatory agencies, and if the offender was a doctor, the state Composite Medical Board (as I did), you can file a Federal grievance through the Office for Civil Rights . I may consider doing this if the hospital continues to leave the libelous charting up on their electronic records system posing as “professional opinion”.

There are several online forms broken down by type of complaint such as HIPPA, Patient Safety/Confidentiality, and Assurance of Compliance

Reference links used in this post;

Bernie Sanders’ position on healthcare:

http://www.ontheissues.org/2016/Bernie_Sanders_Health_Care.htm

Dept. of Health and Human Services – Patient Input:

http://search.hhs.gov/search?q=Patient+Input&HHS=Search&site=HHS&entqr=3&ud=1&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&lr=lang_en&client=HHS&proxystylesheet=HHS

Office for Civil Rights:

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/filing-with-ocr/index.html

Office for Civil Rights: File Civil Rights Complaint Online:
https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/smartscreen/main.jsf