Carla Maclean, 19, feels like the National Health Service (NHS) is turning a cold shoulder to her. Maclean has a heart problem that causes palpitations, shortness of breath, and headaches but has been told funding for a corrective procedure is not available to her. What’s worse, she was told by health officials that she would need to have a “major episode” -- think stroke or heart attack -- for the procedure to be funded.
Maclean was diagnosed with a patent foramen ovale (PFO) several years ago. The condition is common – about 25% of the general population has it – but it causes more problems for some than others. Roughly 40% of people who have a stroke also have PFO.
After being diagnosed with PFO, Maclean figured she would be given an operation date to have the problem corrected. Instead, she was told she wasn’t eligible for the surgery.
“When we went for the meeting I thought the specialist was going to give me a date for the operation, not tell me I couldn’t have it,” Maclean said. “The NHS will only fund it if I have a heart attack or a stroke. I’m worried I may drop dead if I exercise or do anything too strenuous.”
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Maclean says the problem seems to be getting worse. She hasn’t been able to work for two months because of her daily palpitations and chest pains.
“To find out it has either got bigger, or it was initially misdiagnosed is devastating,” she says. “Everything has got worse. I am short of breath and have chest pain every day. I can feel my health going downhill fast…”
The NHS would fund the procedure if she was an infant or an elderly citizen, the Gloucester Citizen reports. Since she is neither, and because people in England typically don’t have private health insurance, she must fund the roughly $25,000 procedure herself.
"I’m starting to lose faith in doctors, it is upsetting. I can’t get on with normal life," Maclean stated.
Photo credit: SWNS