Elliot Malin was contacted by the mother of his cousin, 28-year-old Scott Kline, in order to find a donor match as he was in end-stage renal failure.
Malin and Kline consider themselves cousins, although their blood relationship is more distant than that.
She contacted as many people as possible in the hope of finding a donor to help her son, and Malin kindly agreed.
Kline wasn’t yet on dialysis, but he was going to need the operation.
The subject line of the email stated: “Scott needs a kidney”.
It continued: “Thank you for considering it, but please don’t feel any pressure to do it. Sorry I have to share this burden, but the best potential match is family.”
Malin, who lives in Nevada, U.S, didn’t need to think too hard about it and decided that he’d help Kline.
It’s not clear what happened to Kline’s kidneys, but he needed help and needed it badly. Four months after Malin signed up, it became clear he was a match.
“The amount of hoops you have to jump through to do this is pretty extraordinary,” Malin said.
“The hospital was amazing on trying to make everything as easy as possible.”
In July last year, the surgery was performed at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
Now, whilst he realised that the operation and subsequent recovery would be tough, he didn’t expect to receive any kind of bill for his generosity.
Living donors who give their organs to others are not supposed to be billed for any medical expenses, as the recipient’s insurance covers it.
If they’re not insured, the tab is usually picked up by Medicare.
However, due to a billing mistake, Malin received a bill for a staggering $13,064 from NorthStar, a company that provides anaesthesia, including Baylor Scott & White All Saints.
What’s more, they threatened that the bill might go to collections if unpaid.
However, after initially dismissing the bills following the surgery, they became more threatening and even included references to ‘delinquent’ payments and ‘further collection activity’.
Eventually, they came around the table and the bill was sorted.
Their CFO Kate Stets said in an email to Malin: “On behalf of NorthStar, I apologize [sic] for causing any confusion or concern for you regarding this matter and assure you that it has been resolved."
They also said that they’ve changed policy to attempt to avoid similar situations.
Stets continued: “To be clear, it is not NorthStar’s policy to bill transplant donors for bills related to their donation surgeries,
“We recognize [sic] the well-established public policy standard and practice that transplant donors should not be billed for such services — that we and the nation’s health care system have a responsibility to foster and encourage such acts of selflessness and generosity.”
A spokesperson for the company added: “NorthStar did not hear from Baylor on this matter previously and was first notified of the billing error on December 7, 2021 after insurance information was not provided to NorthStar by the transplant center at the point of care.”
“NorthStar resolved the error immediately and closed the account that same day, prior to any inquiry from [media outlet] ProPublica.”
The medical centre released a statement that said: “We are pleased this has been resolved for our patient by NorthStar.
“Although billing can be complicated, these occurrences are rare.
“We have also been in touch with the patient and we don’t have anything further to report.”
Now, Malin just hopes that Kline can get back to the task of recovering and returning to health.
He concluded: “It sucks but I wouldn’t have changed any of it. I like my cousin. I want him to be healthy.”
LADbible has reached out to NorthStar Anesthesia for comment.
Featured Image Credit: Elliot Malin