Life-saving surgery denied; patients say they’re being told they’re too sick

FOX Files
Data pix.

O’FALLON, Ill. – An O’Fallon, Illinois family contacted Fox 2 after our report about organ transplant denials. They said they had to leave the St. Louis area for life-saving surgery.

Fox 2 Skyped with Shannon Harrison in between doctor appointments. She had to take her husband to Indiana for a surgery her family fought for years to get in the St. Louis area.

Her husband, Clark Harrison, finally got his kidney and liver transplant. The surgery was last week and she said it saved his life. They said countless hospitals repeatedly denied them.

“When you’re being denied for reasons such as you’re too weak – of course you’re too weak -- or other minor reasons, it just its really discouraging because you feel hopeless,” Shannon said.

Harrison contacted Fox 2 because of our January 8 report on Randy Thomas from Imperial.

“I have a kidney,” Thomas said. “I just want somebody to put it in.”

His daughter, Jessica Denbow, is lined up to donate him a kidney but Randy and his family say hospitals have backed out of the transplant in fear of hurting their hospital rating scores.

“You have a kidney that will work,” Denbow said. “It’s in the family and everyone knows the risk and is willing to sign whatever you want them to sign to give him a fighting chance and you have a doctor telling you, ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’”

Harrison also believes her husband was repeatedly denied because hospitals feared hurting their rating scores. She said transplant teams strung them along for three years as Clark got sicker.

“We were going in the right direction and then finally when we got to the part where we went to testing to get you on that list, we were told they decided he was too weak for transplant which was—of course he’s weak—because he needs a transplant,” Harrison said.

After calling dozens of hospitals, IU Health in Indianapolis said it would do it. So, Shannon drove her husband four hours.

“Luckily, we live this far and we can do this, but this isn’t something that everyone can do,” Shannon said.

(read a letter Robert Thomas wrote pleading for his transplant surgery here in St. Louis – I’ve attached)

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