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I’m disgusted, saddened, frustrated, and heartbroken for the family and friends of 17-year-old, Northridge, CA resident, Nataline Sarkisyan. After what had to be the very definition of the ultimate emotional roller coaster day, tonight (12/20/07) family and friends of Nataline are grieving her passing. Earlier the same day, family, friends, and members of the California Nurses Association protested in front of CIGNA‘s Glendale offices. About ten minutes into the protest, while Nataline’s mother was speaking, she was notified that CIGNA was making an “exception” and reversing their refusal to allow Nataline the liver transplant doctors said she desperately needed; with a liver transplant (a donor had been found when Nataline was in better shape) her chances of survival were 65%, without it she had NO chance of survival. Sadly Nataline’s condition worsened that same evening and she died.
I am so sick of hearing about innocent people who have been faced with the misfortune of ill health and disease, DYING because bean-counters and pencil-pushers make life and death decisions that should ONLY be made by doctors! When, oh when, are people going to become fed up with hearing painful stories such as this one, and FINALLY take action to FORCE our government, our politicians, and the health care community to change things?! It can be done, folks, and if you don’t believe me I IMPLORE YOU to watch Michael Moore’s SiCKO, especially the bonus features which show how Oslo, Norway has done it. France has health care for it’s citizens, England has done it, why in the ever loving HELL isn’t the country which is supposedly the leader of the free world, able to do it for THEIR OWN CITIZENS?! Oh wait, we know the answer to that and yes you can hear the same sounds I hear right now: ka-ching, ka-ching. It’s all about the almighty dollar, people, all about the money.
Sorry if this post might not be very focused, but when I heard the news Thursday night that Nataline had passed I just had to come here to let the emotions I’m feeling somehow pour themselves out via my keyboard. To have witnessed on television Nataline’s family being told that CIGNA was going to allow the transplant, right in the middle of the protest, then to be truly shocked to have the news come on hours later to report that Nataline had passed…well, it’s just something that’s made me pretty emotional. I have to note that as I flipped channels to catch the story on the various Los Angeles stations, I can honestly say that this is one of the few times where you could tell that each and every reporter was obviously personally affected by the heartbreaking news they were sharing with the viewers.
Please, please, PLEASE do whatever you can to help change our unfair and broken health care system, my friends. No more people should be denied access to life-saving health care just so the HMOs can continue to make money hand over fist.
- Girl Dies While Awaiting Liver Transplant (good video covering day’s events)
- Cancer Survivor Dies After Transplant Is Approved (video)
- CIGNA, In Switch, To Fund Transplant
- H.R. 676 information on Physicians for a National Health Program site
- Text of H.R. 676
- I just found this video made by Nataline’s brother (who had recently donated bone marrow to her) which was posted on December 18th, 2007, two days prior to her death. What an obviously devoted brother she had!
- Cancer Girl’s Lawyer Blames CIGNA for Her Death-CBS2.com (comprehensive coverage/video)
- Lawsuit promised in transplant case -AP
- CIGNA profits increase 22% in 3Q-Philadelphia Business Journal
- Press release from the California Nurses Association regarding Nataline’s death and CIGNA:
For Immediate Release
December 21, 2007
RN’s Statement on Death of Nataline Sarkisyan: ‘CIGNA Should Have Listened to Her Doctors And Approved the Transplant a Week Ago’
The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today blasted insurance giant CIGNA for failing to approve a liver transplant one week earlier for 17-year-old Nataline Sarkisyan, who tragically died last night just hours after CIGNA relented and agreed to the procedure following a massive national outcry.
On Dec. 11, four leading physicians, including the surgical director of the Pediatric Liver Transplant Program at UCLA, wrote to CIGNA urging the company to reverse its denial. The physicians said that Nataline “currently meets criteria to be listed as Status 1A” for a transplant. They also challenged CIGNA’s denial which the company said occurred because their benefit plan “does not cover experimental, investigational and unproven services,” to which the doctors replied, “Nataline’s case is in fact none of the above.”
“So what happened between December 11, when CIGNA denied the transplant, and December 20 when they approved? A huge outpouring of protest and CIGNA’s public humiliation. Why didn’t they just listen to the medical professionals at the bedside in the first place?” asked Geri Jenkins, RN, a member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents who works in a transplant unit at the University of California San Diego Medical Center.
On Thursday, CIGNA was bombarded with phone calls to its offices across the country while a rally sponsored by CNA/NNOC, with the substantial help of the local Armenian community, drew 150 people to the Glendale offices of CIGNA – all of which produced the turnaround by CIGNA to finally reverse its prior denial of care.
CNA/NNOC Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro called the final outcome “a horrific tragedy that demonstrates what is so fundamentally wrong with our health care system today. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on our health. Their first priority is to make profits for their shareholders – and the way they do that is by denying care.”
“It is simply not possible to organize major protests every time a multi-billion corporation like CIGNA denies care that has been recommended by a physician,” DeMoro said. “Having insurance is not the same as receiving needed care. We need a fundamental change in our healthcare system that takes control away from the insurance giants and places it where it belongs – in the hands of the medical professionals, the patients, and their families.”