Sunday, June 13, 2010

It Breaks My Heart

(Huntar and His Mom, Barb)

This weekend, our family spent all weekend helping at a Benefit Yardsale for Huntar Gustafson. He is a dear friend of our family and the whole situation his family is facing just breaks my heart.

(Huntar and I)

Huntar is 19 months old, and he needs a very rare surgery. His spine is in two pieces and he has a tethered spinal cord. There have only been 3 documented cases of his situation in the United States, and 10 in the world. The only doctor who has ever performed this surgery before works at the University of Minnesota's Fairview Hospital, and because Huntar lives in Michigan, the insurance company will only pay a small percentage of the costs for the procedure. The hospital in Minnesota denied Huntar care because they would not accept the 17% that the state special services health care would provide. It is ridiculous that this little boy could become paralyzed simply because he lives in the wrong state. Are we not the United States of America? Why does it matter if you are in Michigan or Minnesota for your health coverage? Seriously, there is something wrong with our system.

Huntar can only grow about one more inch before he is going to start to have some serious repercussions from not having the surgery. It isn't like this is a cosmetic issue, HE NEEDS the surgery. The surgery alone costs $150,00o and Fairview Hospital will not even allow the family to pay with a payment plan. They informed the family less than 3 days prior to the scheduled surgery that it would have to be cancelled as the insurance company was only willing to pay 17% of the expenses. In fact, the hospital has not been willing to provide any documentation as to why they have denied the case or even return phone calls. It breaks my heart that something can be done for this amazing little boy, but the roadblock is funding and that a hospital would deny a family these necessary services for financial reasons. The Shriner's Hospital in the Twin Cities has been involved, but they do not have the facilities to perform the surgery. The Children's Miracle Network was also contacted and the family was told that they would not be able to receive assistance as they do not work with that hospital. (They are being contacted again, as the family is willing to travel to any facility that has qualified doctors and equipment).
The community has really been coming together, but $150,000 isn't "chump change" and of course, that is only the cost of the surgery. There has been a pancake breakfast, a Karaoke Night, and a Yardsale to help raise some funds. Donations have been coming in through change cans throughout the community and from various individuals. So far, approximately $10,000 have been raised. It's a start, but it isn't enough. Additional fundraisers are being planned and friends and family are reaching out to everyone and anyone who may have connections to a doctor or a hospital that may be willing to take on Huntar's case. In the state of Michigan, the insurance will cover 80% of the expenses.

Our childcare families donated quite a few items toward the Benefit Yardsale, and a few of the enrolled children were at the event to help out. I do not intend to use this blog as my "soap box," but I needed to continue to spread the word for Huntar, and to ask any of you out there following my posts to spread the word to as many people as possible. The more people that become involved, the better, as more ideas will be generated, and someone out there will know someone who can help!

You can follow Huntar on Facebook or through his blog. If you would like to donate items for the upcoming Rummage Sale Benefit in Hancock, Michigan more information is available here. We will also be selling T-shirts and Sweatshirts soon. Please check the blog or Facebook for updates.

Click on this button to Visit Huntar's Blog, Can you Help Us Help Huntar?

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