Heart Transplant Hurdle: Young Physician Fights For Life

Four months ago, she lost her twin. Now, Dr. Maria Haroon might lose her own life.

Her only hope? A heart transplant. But heart transplants aren't simple. And in the U.S., insurance hurdles and medical expenses can make it almost impossible for some to receive a heart transplant.

Dr. Haroon and her late sister both fell victim to a heart condition called "dilated cardiomyopathy"--  a condition in which the heart becomes so weakened and enlarged that it cannot pump enough blood to the rest of the body.

Back in India, both sisters were practicing physicians. They explored every medical option available to them--prescription medications, pacemakers, and recently for Maria, gene therapy. 

Unfortunately, the other treatments failed to offer much hope or promise. 

Now, a heart transplant is Dr. Maria's only hope for survival.  She left her native India and came to the United States, in hopes that she'd have better luck finding treatment. Dr. Maria recently arrived in California, where she is living with her brother and his family until she can have a heart transplant.

Dr. Maria's brother, Mujtaba Ahsan, has spent the last few months desperately raising funds for her transplant surgery, which at present will run over one million dollars. 

But Ahsan's biggest hurdle is that his sister will have to pay out-of-pocket. She isn't insured.

As a result, Ahsan has contacted over 25 Southern California hospitals for quotes for his sister's treatment. 

Surprisingly, Ahsan believes that the hospitals are quoting him rates two and even three times higher than what the hospitals would offer to an insurance company.  A recent quote from Cedar Sinai hospital puts the surgery and post-op cost at $1.1 million.


At present the family has raised $50,000 via donations from friends, relatives, and local mosques.  They have secured another $200,000 in pledges from family members. 

Now, they're seeking to move forward with the surgery-- and their lives.

if you're interested in helping further or pledging a donation amount, please contact Mujtaba Haroon at mujtaba_gulnaz@yahoo.com

Follow Tasneem Manjra on Twitter @tasneem_in_sf