New mother dying of Covid denied lung transplant by medical insurance as it’s too expensive

By Helen Elfer
News 3LV

A woman who gave birth to a premature baby and remains in hospital fighting for her life against Covid has been denied a lung transplant by her health insurers.

Gabriela Acuna delayed getting vaccinated due to her pregnancy, and caught the virus in August, according to her sister Paula Olmeda. Her condition rapidly deteriorated and she was admitted to hospital with failing lungs and heart.

On a GoFundMe page set up by Ms Olmeda, she says her sister’s care was complicated by her pregnancy and the hospital held off using a ventilator and other treatments because of risk to the foetus. Her family was unable to visit her due to Covid restrictions at the hospital.

Ms Olmeda wrote: “Gaby fought and fought for 2 weeks as her family watched helplessly through FaceTime. Everyone wanted the baby to reach at least 30 weeks before they would take him out but at 26 weeks pregnant she was dying, and her heart was now at risk.”

After an emergency caesarian section, Ms Acuna’s baby Ryden was born weighing just 1 pound and 10 ounces on September 13.

Having survived multiple lungs collapses and a cardiac arrest, Ms Acuna was then told she needed a lung transplant and was approved for the procedure.

Her family was told she would be airlifted from her Las Vegas hospital to a specialist California unit, but Nevada Medicaid denied the treatment at the last minute, and the helicopter that had arrived to collect Ms Acuna flew off without her.

The family learned the following day that the state of Nevada does not approve lung transplants.

“There are no words to describe that moment,” said Ms Olmeda.

According to News 3LV Nevada Medicaid said in a statement: “A lung transplant is not a covered service with Nevada Medicaid.”

Ms Olmeda said: “I cannot, will not let my sister die when her baby is waiting for her, when she came back from the dead and continues to fight for her life. I know she’s on borrowed time. She cannot survive in her current state.”

So far the GoFundMe page has raised $47,457 of its $2,500,000 goal, which is the amount needed for the surgery.

Ms Aucuna’s family is appealing the Medicaid decision.

The Independent has contacted Nevada Medicaid for comment.

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