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Grand Rapids medical center allegedly asks single mother to crowdsource money for heart transplant

Martin developed congestive heart failure as a complication from chemotherapy

Hedda Elizabeth Martin

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The family of a single mother alleged a Grand Rapids medical center told her to set up a fundraising effort to help pay for a needed heart transplant. 

According to a Facebook post made by the family, Hedda Martin, 60, was told by the Spectrum Health Richard Devos Heart and Lung Transplant Center she could not have a heart transplant, alleging she didn't have enough money to cover the medicine used to make sure her body doesn't reject the heart.

The hospital recommended that she should set up a “fundraising effort of $10,000.”

The Facebook post, which has since been taken down, went viral Saturday, even being shared by New York Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Martin's son, Alex Britt, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 and the chemotherapy treatment, while curing her cancer, damaged her heart to the extent that she requires a transplant and had to leave her job on disability. Britt said she walked dogs and would pet-sit to raise funds.

Martin said she was supposed to have a procedure Monday for an assistive device to help sustain her while waiting for a new heart. At the time, Martin had already raised $4,600 on GoFundMe for her prior medical bills

Britt set up a new GoFundMe page to raise the additional $10,000 needed to cover the cost of the immunosuppressive drugs. The medical center reportedly would not consider Martin for a heart transplant without her being able to pay for the drugs. 

Raising the funds still doesn't promise Martin a spot on the heart transplant list.

"I will not be put on the transplant list until I fulfill a requirement of $10,000 set aside. Only when I have raised that required amount, will I then be 'reconsidered' for heart transplant," Martin's Facebook post said. "Not automatically added to list but reconsidered."

Britt said the medical team does not want to potentially waste a vital organ if Martin cannot afford the drugs, which is why she's not being put on the transplant list, even with time to raise funds.

An excerpt from the letter sent to Martin from the medical center can be read below.

Dear Ms. Martin,

Your medical situation was presented to our multidisciplinary heart transplant committee on Tuesday, October 20, 2018. The decision made by the committee is that you are not a candidate at this time for a heart transplant due to needing a more secure financial plan for immunosuppressive medication coverage. The Committee is recommending a fundraising effort of $10,000.

​​​​​​​For more information, or to donate, visit Hedda's Heart Transplant GoFundMe page here.