Woman will die without help

By Colleen Donovan - bio | email | Twitter

BEAUMONT, MS (WDAM) - A Beaumont woman who has been battling a life-threatening illness since fall of 2008 is calling on government officials for help.

Wonda Hatcher started experiencing severe abdominal pains in September, and now she is fighting to receive a potentially life-saving transplant operation.

Wonda Hatcher's illness, ischemic bowel disease, has caused her to lose a lot of weight, and the inability to eat solid food. She had a series of operations, and during the course of her treatment her small intestine was removed due to a loss of circulation.

She now receives vital nutrients through a tube.

Prior to getting sick, Hatcher worked at a nursing home. She stopped working due to her illness, and her health insurance ran out in April. She now has Mississippi Medicaid.

Hatcher needs a small intestine transplant operation to give her a fighting chance at life.

"Not maybe six months from now; it's a now situation," she said.

Hospitals in the state do not perform the procedure she needs to live, and two out-of-state hospitals that offer the surgery - Tulane in New Orleans and the Nebraska Medical Center - told Hatcher this month they could not accept Mississippi Medicaid.

Officials in Nebraska said she would need to receive a waiver to bypass a two-year disability rule.

"Now Nebraska says the only way that they could do it is if Mississippi Medicaid made a waiver for the two years that I would have to be disabled and poverty stricken. Like I said, this is not going to last me two years. I am not going to last two years."

Hatcher needs that waiver for the operation, which she says costs about $400,000.

"They told me the only ones who could possibly change things would be the government."

So now Hatcher is hoping someone in a position to help hears her plea.

"My message would be to elected officials to please make a waiver so I can go ahead and get the surgery done so I can get it done just make the waiver, and I can get it done and the rest will fall in place. The Lord will make way for the rest to fall in place, but I need the waiver."

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