APNewsBreak: Donation pledged for Ariz. man’s transplant after budget cut ended state coverage

By Paul Davenport, AP
Wednesday, October 6, 2010

APNewsBreak: Donation pledged for Ariz. transplant

PHOENIX — An Arizona man who lost his eligibility for a state-funded transplant due to state budget cuts learned Wednesday he is the beneficiary of an anonymous donation to pay for the life-saving procedure.

Leukemia patient Mark Price’s transplant physician, Dr. Jeffrey Schriber, said the donation will allow preparations to move forward for a bone-marrow transplant that could take place within two to three weeks.

“People stepping up like this is what is best about America,” Schriber said.

Banner Health spokeswoman Nancy Neff confirmed a donation has been made through the Banner Health Foundation but said no details are available. Bone-marrow transplants cost $250,000 or more.

Price, a former armored-truck guard, was elated.

“There’s an anonymous donor that wants to save a life,” he said. “Oh heck, it’s just fabulous news.”

Price got word of two possible matches for donors last Friday — the same day the state’s Medicaid program implemented budget cuts approved last spring.

Schriber said one of the two potential donors will be contacted to arrange testing at a transplant facility for suitability for the procedure. That facility would harvest the bone marrow for transplantation to Price.

Arizona faces huge budget shortfalls, and the benefit cuts implemented Friday by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System were included in the budget that the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer approved last spring.

Elimination of optional services will save about $5 million for the fiscal year that started July 1. An additional $15 million of federal funding provided on a 3-to-1 matching basis will be lost.

Besides bone-marrow transplants involving non-relatives, coverage for lung transplants and some heart and liver transplants has been eliminated, along with occupational and speech therapy, insulin pumps, hearing aids and emergency dental care. Funding also dried up for wellness exams.

Transplant centers have been lobbying the Republican-led Legislature in recent months to meet in special session to at least temporarily restore the transplant funding, but there has been no indication that any action is coming.

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