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Nataline Sarkisyan Dies After CIGNA Denies Liver Transplant

Because of my friend Bethani Roam’s recent struggle with liver failure, a subsequent liver transplant, and then an on-going battle with the threat of rejection, the story of Nataline Sarkisyan is one I find touching. It has raised distinct and unavoidable questions this evening.

It is a heart-breaking story. Nataline died last night at UCLA Medical center, the result of leukemia and subsequent liver failure…and some would say, the result of her health insurance company refusing to approve a liver transplant. On December 11, her doctors contacted CIGNA for authorization, which the company refused to issue. On Thursday, around 150 people, including her family and nurses protested outside CIGNA’s offices in Glendale, CA. The uproar prompted CIGNA to reverse its decision, and during the protest, a messenger came with the word of the insurer’s change of mind.

The victory cheers were short-lived. Within hours, Nataline died. The authorization for the liver transplant had come too late.

Now according to the Associated Press:

Attorney Mark Geragos said he plans to ask the district attorney to press murder or manslaughter charges against Cigna HealthCare in the case. The insurer “maliciously killed her” because it did not want to bear the expense of her transplant and aftercare, Geragos said.

Is something wrong with our medical situation here in America? Should insurance companies have more say over the treatment of a patient than does the doctor? This does not seem right to me, and I grieve for this family. At the same time, I don’t perceive CIGNA as an evil entity, with no heart, and set on merely accumulating money. Perhaps I am naive.

Do you have thoughts about medical care in America? I believe it to be the best in the world, but when I hear of cases such as these, it brings me up short, and I must pause to consider their ramifications. For it could be me…could be my child…or another of my loved ones. What is the solution?


My devotional blog is here.

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Please, Once Again Bethani Roam Desperately Needs Prayer

I know I have asked before, but once more, please pray for Bethani Roam. She is in full rejection of her liver and is being transported back to UC San Francisco.

Bethani is a 24 year-old minister’s wife and the mother of a nine month old baby. Last month when her liver suddenly and completely failed, she was airlifted to San Francisco where she underwent a liver transplant.

Her blog is maintained here. At this moment Bethani and all her family desperately need our prayers.

EDIT: Bethani’s husband is a full-time evangelist, which means they travel from church to church preaching special revival services. As far as I know his only income is from the offerings he receives at these meetings, and I’m sure these are challenging days for them financially. In addition to not being able to travel as they usually do, I don’t believe they have medical insurance.

Someone asked them to set up a Paypal account on her blog, which they have done. There may be some who read here that will feel prompted to send money to this very deserving couple. I’m putting a check in the mail today.

Thank you friends for your love and prayers.


My devotional blog is here.

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Bethani is Home

Bethani Roam has gone from the hospital and is at her parent’s home, although still extremely weak and continuing to have trouble eating. Please keep praying for her, commenting on her blog and sending cards. Those who have gone through life-threatening episodes understand how uplifting and encouraging it is to know others are thinking about you and praying for you.


My devotional blog is here.

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Extremely Urgent Prayer Request for Bethani Roam

Tonight, I bring a very special need to you. Please, all of you join me in prayer for Bethani Roam who is desperately in need of a touch of God. In my Thanksgiving post I told a little of her story. She is 24 years old, the mother of an 8 month old baby and is the wife of a minister. Last month her liver suddenly and completely shut down, she was flown to U C San Francisco and had a liver transplant. She has been doing extremely well, until a few days ago, when she became unable to keep either food or medication down. Last night she was readmitted to the hospital.

Bethani, Brian and Wyatt Roam

There is only one God, and He is not of a certain denomination. I’m asking every friend and acquaintance I have on this blog to earnestly pray–however you find it comfortable to do so–for Bethani Roam.Thank you.

EDIT from Bethani’s blog

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Hospital Report

Bethani has been resting more and more. She was dehydrated and one of her lungs is two-thirds filled with fluid, but she had no fever. The doctors at this point think the lung fluid will clear by itself. They can drain it if it is needed (God can drain it!) The ultrasound and x-ray on her liver was fine. Fluid is flowing through her liver. Last night she was able to keep her medications in her system. They are trying different meds for the nausea. The doctors want her to eat anything at this point. The more calories the better.

She has been very determined to get better. Even when she was nauseated she would still get up and walk. The doctors very strongly told her she needs to eat more to get more strength.

Bro Bishop is at home with Wyatt. Sis Bishop and Brian are at the hospital with Bethani. Thank you for your prayer for all of them. God’s family is awesome! The support and prayer they are getting is beyond words.   ____________________________________________________________________

My devotional blog is here.

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A Glowing End to Thanksgiving Day

Although my thoughts and conversation today have been full of happy and eager thanksgiving, I would feel badly not to speak the same sentiments here on my blog before the day has passed. There is so much for which I am thankful. I want to bring to your attention three persons whose dire situations emphasize the overwhelming blessings which have been heaped on me.

The first is Army Spc. John Austin Johnson, a wounded veteran, who as he lay in an Austin, Texas hospital lost three children to a deadly rollover automobile crash. Mr. Johnson’s wife and children were on their way to visit him in the hospital when she lost control of the car and it rolled four times, killing the children. He was recovering from his fifth wounding by an improvised explosive device during his two years in Iraq. Associated Press has the complete story here.

A short while ago, my daughter, Rebecca, began working for Inland Home Supportive Services, a government funded organization whose goal is to assist disabled or very sick persons to remain in their own homes as long as possible.

“You must meet TM,” (not her real name) Rebecca told me a few days ago. This woman ia 54 years old, is 5’7″ tall and weighs 95 pounds. She was born with cerebral palsy, has no use of her legs, has an issue with gender identity, and has celiac disease. Although she uses a wheelchair for some things, for the most part when she is home, she crawls on her hands and knees to get around. She shows streaks of brilliance, but because of severe problems through her life, in many ways, she acts as a 12 year old child. On her wall are documents that indicate that at one time she took the vows of a nun. Her house is spotlessly clean, Rebecca reports.

“I’ll bring you some food from our Thanksgiving meal,” Rebecca told her, and when Rebecca left here an hour or so ago, she had prepared a plate of food for TM.

The third person I want to mention is Bethani Roam. Bethani is 24, a minister’s wife, the youngest daughter of some of our good friends. A couple of weeks ago, she suddenly became very ill, and within a few days was diagnosed as having complete liver failure. She was airlifted to a hospital in San Francisco and lay near death until a liver donor was located. Miraculously one was found within a day, she had a complete liver transplant, and is now successfully recovering at home. A blog site has been established and there you can follow the daily developments of this event.

Those are only three out of tens of thousands similar stories from around the world. And here I sit tonight in a warm home, grandchildren on pallets, in cribs, and eating snacks at the bar. I’ve played several games of checkers with grandboys, flames are blazing in the fireplace, and our fridge is chocked with leftovers from the sumptious Thanksgiving meal we enjoyed a few hours ago. Hand lettered Happy Thanksgiving signs are stuck on windows and on the mantel, toys are scattered on the floor and paper airplanes litter the place.

Yes, I’m blessed…and thankful.


My devotional blog is here.