Hedda Martin is sick.
The 60-year-old is a breast cancer survivor, but recently learned she was in serious need of a heart transplant because of complications from her chemotherapy treatment, according to her son Alex.
On a fundraiser page, he says Martin has gone through "many medications and treatments" since she began chemotherapy in 2005, and that her heart "deteriorated to life-threatening condition" earlier this month.
But doctors at the Spectrum Health Heart and Lung Transplant Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan, would not put her on a transplant list until she paid up.
In a letter from Spectrum shared by Martin on Facebook, the center told her should would need to raise $10,000 before being considered for a transplant, and suggested a "fundraising effort" to collect the cash.
Martin explained that the hospital did not trust her to pay for the $700 monthly anti-rejection drugs, or her $4,500 deductible. The $10,000 value listed in the letter would cover Martin’s 20% copay for two years.
It's unclear if Spectrum bothered to contact Martin's insurance company or the drug manufacturer, both of which sometimes provide life-saving medicines at discounts for gravely ill patients.
Despite feeling mistreated by Spectrum staff, Martin did just what they said, organizing a GoFundMe page with help from her son.
Insurance groups are recommending GoFundMe as official policy - where customers can die if they can’t raise the goal in time - but sure, single payer healthcare is unreasonable.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 24, 2018
h/t @DanRiffle pic.twitter.com/zetPW0MgDd
When her fundraiser caught the attention of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected congresswoman from New York, Martin’s story quickly went viral.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the letter showed "insurance groups recommending GoFundMe as official policy," and soon her message was "liked" thousands of times by outraged social media users.
Thanks to all the attention, Martin’s fundraiser collected more than $11,000 in only a few hours, and had reached more than $29,000 as of Tuesday.
Martin told MLive that she was "overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness," but didn’t bear a grudge against Spectrum. Instead, she just said they could have handled her case better.
"I will get better and I will fight to my last breath the injustice and greed in our healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors," Martin said.
After facing a backlash on social media, Spectrum released a statement about Martin’s case, writing that they must ensure donor organs "remain viable," and that "costs are sometimes a regrettable and unavoidable factor in the decision-making process."
Sadly, Martin’s story is not even that unusual these days. Fortune reports that Americans raise about $650 million a year on GoFundMe pages to pay for medical expenses.