By Tamar Auber, April 2, 2014.
Shalina Bolden’s one-year-old son Lawrence suffers from a rare chromosomal abnormality that has caused him to suffer from heart defects, immune problems and weak lungs. In his current condition, Lawrence’s prognosis is grim and he is expected to survive less than two years.
Fortunately, doctors at Duke University have pioneered a procedure that may save the little boy. A thymus transplant, which has proven successful in 74 percent of the patients treated by Duke’s specialists, can dramatically increase Lawrence’s life span and give him a renewed lease on life.
The trouble is Nebraska’s Medicaid program is refusing to cover the procedure.
The thymus transplant pioneered by Dr. Louise Markert and available only at Duke University is currently considered experimental. For that reason, Nebraska’s Medicaid office has turned it down.
Dr.Markert said that in cases like Lawrence’s where the condition was rare and the experimental treatment offered a significant chance of saving a patient’s life, other states have been willing to make exceptions and act in the patient’s best interests.
“All I suggest is that they talk to their colleagues in other states,” she said, pointing to other state’s less restrictive policies and stronger support for Medicaid initiatives. “But I don’t want to be sarcastic about it either. I imagine they’re just trying to do their job. It must be very difficult when looking at the regulations in place.”
Lawrence’s mom has also fought hard for the state to reconsider and thinks her son deserves a fighting chance at life.
“He’s been through two heart surgeries, he has a [tracheostomy], he’s had three feeding tube placements and every time he’s come out of it strong,” she told local news KETV. “I just want Lawrence to have a chance at life; to understand what it’s like to not be in a hospital bed.”
Shalina has also set up a fund at gofundme.com to raise the money needed for her little boy to have the transplant he needs. So far, the appeal has raised just over $6000.
Photo Credit: Bolden Family/Go Fund Me campaign