How much is a life worth?

I recently came across the story of Jessica Cowin when a friend linked to it in an email to me. Jessica was born with a heart condition that required several surgeries, a pacemaker at a young age, and eventually a heart transplant at age 16.

In the years sine the heart transplant, Jessica has been doing well, but almost 10 years later, the drugs she takes to prevent rejection of the transplanted heart have destroyed her kidneys. The good news is that her sister is a match and can donate a life-saving kidney to her.

The problem is that there is a high cost to the transplant surgery. Jessica's insurance doesn't cover much. Her health insurance will cover up to $30,000 of the cost of a transplant, but the surgery is expected to cost over $100,000, plus $30,000 in related treatments. In order to get the surgery, Jessica needs to pay for it in full up front. The surgical team will not proceed with the transplant until they are paid.
The business of health insurance is an ugly one. Common sense says that insurance policies can't possibly cover every condition or treatment, and there must be limits in place otherwise insurance companies couldn't stay in business. I understand the limits of Jessica's coverage.

I also understand the transplant team's policy of not doing surgery until they're paid. Doctors and hospitals are expensive. There are machines to be paid for, employees to be compensated, and malpractice insurance to be purchased. Who can blame the medical team for want to have their costs covered?

Yet it must seem so unfair to a 25 year-old who has just graduated from college. She made it through a heart transplant with flying colors, but now her life is in jeopardy because she can't get the kidney that is waiting for her.

Jessica's family has established a page on to collect donations. If they can raise the money, Jessica can have the surgery. I love the idea of the website, offering an easy way for people to donate money to worthy causes. Money is tight for a lot of people these days, but just imagine if everyone who read this story were to donate $5 or $10 to the cause? Take a look at Jessica's story. It may touch your heart the way it did mine.
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