Reporting Ron Jones
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – It has been a long road for Brenda Jensen. She’s been struggling with debilitating diseases since she was 6.
“I’ve had 84 operations,” she says.
About a decade ago she severely damaged her vocal chords after complications with a previous surgery and was unable to speak without assistance.
But later an international team of surgeons performed a miracle. She’s the second person in the world to successfully receive a voice box transplant.
But now there’s a new fight
“Because i don’t know how long I can live,” she says.
Her life is in danger because she’s struggling with a rare virus that attacks her kidneys and pancreas.
“It could kill me,” she says. “I could lose all my organs. I’ve had five organs transplanted.”
The one drug that fights off the virus is a drug called Leflunomide. She’s been taking it for several years now and it’s been successful, but just recently she received letters denying her coverage.
When her medication runs out, her kidneys and pancreas shut down.
The drug is expensive – $800 “a month,” says her physician, Dr. Paul Golden.
Golden prescribed it, calling it Brenda’s miracle drug.
“It helps prevent rejection of those organs,” he says.
Dr. Golden is baffled by the denial letters, wondering if insurance carrier Humana was more concerned about its bottom line than Brenda’s lifeline.
His staff worked overtime trying to get it resolved, but Humana told them the prescription is not authorized anymore.
“I can’t understand why someone could attempt to deny a life-saving medication such as this,” he says.
Brenda says the letters are a death sentence.
“And now they want to cut me off? I’m not ready to die yet,” she says.
“Rather significant ethical issue, isn’t it?” Dr. Golden says.
After CBS13 starting asking Humana questions, Dr. Golden got a call about what’s possibly a paperwork misunderstanding, and that the company approved coverage through next June.
Through it all Brenda is a survivor.
“My hope is that if anyone else had to go through what I went through, if anyone had to fight as I had to fight, to stay alive.”