Greenwood Woman Needs Help for Liver Transplant
Greenwood Woman Needs Help for Liver Transplant
Leah Morgan, contributing writer
Melissa Lewis, a Greenwood resident, wife and mother of two needs help from the community. Melissa unexpectedly contracted Hepatitis last month and her health has been rapidly declining ever since. She has been hospitalized several times in recent weeks at both Truman Medical Center Lakewood and the University of Kansas Medical Center. Doctors say her condition is life threatening.
Melissa’s husband, who himself is disabled, lost his job with the health insurance that went with it. Their family has recently undergone foreclosure on the home and they do not have a vehicle. Their Pastor, Jim Winings of Heaven’s Gate Gospel Church in Lee’s Summit, has lent them a vehicle in the meantime.
With no medical insurance, Melissa started out seeking treatment at Truman hospital, a safety net hospital that accepts Medicaid. Her situation was brought to the attention of State Representative Jeff Grisamore this week and he has been working since to assist the Lewis family with expediting Melissa’s Medicaid eligibility and on identifying potential resources for financial and family support.
“Officials in Jefferson City, including, Dr. Ian McCaslin, the Director of MoHealthNet (Missouri Medicaid) and his staff have been very helpful in seeking to move Melissa’s Medicaid application to the front of the line for approval, given her life threatening condition,” Grisamore said. “We have also been in contact the last couple of days with other officials at the state and national levels on her case, as well as KU’s organ transplant team, who have been very helpful, and other related non-profits,” he added.
Dan Lowe, a managing partner of RED Development, the developers of Summit Woods Crossing and Summit Fair Shopping Centers has also assisted Grisamore in identifying sources of encouragement and support Melissa and her family.
Lowe, a liver transplant recipient himself, directed them to Gift of Life, a Kansas City area based non-profit that assist organ transplant candidates through the entire process—from the waiting list to post op and recovery. Gift of Life also conducts awareness building and training in schools and communities to encourage people young and old—to become organ donors, one of whom can save multiple lives.
The cost of the liver transplant that Melissa Lewis needs is normally over $320,000 and the medication after the transplant can run as much as $5,000 a month. ”KU Med has been great to do what they have for me so far, but there’s only so much they can do without insurance,” said Lewis.
Rep. Grisamore continues to work with state officials to fast track her Medicaid approval. “At that point, the MoHealthNet director told me they can negotiate with KU to, hopefully, come to an agreement for her transplant,” he said. “First she has to go through an assessment process.” Normally Medicaid only covers a portion of liver transplants and charitable resources must make up the difference for recipients to be approved for the waiting list for organ transplants.
Once on the waiting list, liver transplants in the Kansas City area, which are only performed at KU Medical Center, tend to move pretty quickly, according to Keith Anderson, Executive Director of Gift of Life, which was founded by Nate and Kim Harbur, whose son, Luke—then 3-years-old—received the first liver transplant performed at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City in 1996 through the organ donation of Aaron Drake. Luke is a healthy teenager today due to Aaron’s donation after his death. “Recipients on the waiting list can also apply at other area transplant centers in St. Louis and Omaha as long as they can assure the ability to get to a center within 2-3 hours of a liver becoming available,” said Anderson. “We just want to do everything we possibly can to save this woman’s life. When I first heard the cost would be $320,000 and no insurance, it was kind of overwhelming. But, in serving constituents and Missourians in need, I have found that persistence and diligence can often open doors that did not seem possible at first,” says Grisamore. “You just have to think and act outside the box and keep pressing on.”
Melissa is a member of the Heaven’s Gate Gospel Church in Lee’s Summit, and her pastor, Jim Wining, has been fully investing himself to help this family. He says, “I believe the Lord will find someone to help this family out. They are such good people and we just want to reach out to the community for help. It is hard to know that money is the only thing that may keep a mother from being with her children.”
Several fundraisers are in the planning stages for Melissa, but they could certainly use your help right now. If you can make a donation of money, or even a vehicle the family could use to transport Melissa for treatments, please contact Pastor Wining at (816) 217-3307. Donations could also be sent to Heaven’s Gate Gospel Church at 1221 SE Broadway DR # F, Lees Summit, MO 64081. If you have anything to give, this little family could truly benefit from your kindness and you could perhaps help to save a life. Heaven's Gate Church office (816) 347-9179, Pastor Wining cell: (816) 217-3307 or email: email@example.com 07-17-09 6:25p.m. Publisher's Update The Lee's Summit Tribune was just notified:
Melissa's application for MoHealthNet (Missouri Medicaid) was approved on the afternoon of Thursday, July 16th within hours of Rep. Grisamore conferring with MoHealthNet Director, Dr. Ian McCaslin, requesting that her application be moved to the front of the line and fast tracked due to her life threatening condition.
Grisamore commended Dr. McCaslin and the MoHealthNet team, as well as Family Services in Jackson County for expediting and approving her application so quickly.
Melissa received treatment at the Truman Medical Center Lakewood Emergency Room on the same day. Pastor Jim Wining joined Rep. Grisamore at the TMC-Lakewood ER assisting Brent and Melissa Lewis.
Grisamore has been communicating with KU Med Center's transplant team. A KU transplant team member said Melissa's evaluation for transplant is moving very rapidly and their transplant selection committee will soon evaluate her case for candidacy for liver transplant.
Lee's Summit Tribune will continue to post updates to keep their readers informed.
Mellisa Lewis still needs your help
By Pastor Jim Whining, Heaven's Gate Gospel Church
Melissa remains in an in/out hospital stay basis. Her adverse liver conditions continue to rise. Her spirits remain high. The medications being administred are comforting her but not helfull in curing the disease. She is at the top of the liver transplant list. Efforts continue to raise financial help for her post and current living difficulties.
Gifts may be directly made to the Melissa Lewis Life Fund at Bank of Lee's Summit, F&C Bank or directly to Heaven's Gate Gospel Church 1221F Southeast Broadway, Lee's Summit, Missouri 64081. You may also donate on line at our website. www.heavensgategospelchurch.com
Pastor Jim Wining
Heaven's Gate Gospel Church