Schumer Saves Cancer Girl Surgery

A DRAMATIC intervention by New York Senator Charles Schumer has allowed a nine-year-old Irish undocumented girl to have vital cancer surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York.The family of the young Irish girl with cancer was recently told by her insurance company that they could no longer keep her on the policy because she didn't have a valid Social Security number. However, a call from the parents to the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) resulted in an immediate outreach to the office of Schumer, who has been steadfast in his support of the Irish undocumented."Once Senator Schumer was alerted the process moved very speedily," said Kelly Fincham, executive director of ILIR. "We are delighted the little girl can now go ahead and have the surgery.""Mary," not her real name for reasons of confidentiality, was due to have the operation at Sloan Kettering Hospital this week. However, family received a call from the hospital on Monday stating that they could not treat the little girl, who was diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) three weeks ago, because their insurance company, Fidelis Care, who she has been insured with for five years, had been cancelled."We didn't know what we were going to do," said Mary's mother, an Irish immigrant, on Monday during a phone interview with the Irish Voice.After spending weeks battling back and forth with Fidelis Care, a Catholic run insurance company, they were finally informed by a representative from the company three weeks ago that because Mary and her mother were undocumented the little girl was no longer eligible for coverage, something that was never an issue for the past five years."Every year we renewed her insurance and they never said not having a Social Security number was an issue, and again when we went to renew the insurance eight weeks ago everything was fine," said the mother."I think it was when they realized that my daughter was sick (bills were coming to them from the hospital) they decided to pull the insurance stating that it was because we were undocumented."Upon initially receiving the news from Fidelis three weeks ago that the coverage was cancelled, Mary's family went to the Aisling Irish Center in Yonkers where they first heard about the insurance. The center sorted out the issue for the family - or so they thought. Appointments were made with Sloan and everything was going smoothly until Monday when the prestigious cancer hospital called Mary's mother to inform her they could not treat her daughter because she was uninsured.Panic stricken and sick with worry Mary's mother, realizing that her ill daughter might not get the proper care to treat her cancer, got in contact with ILIR, which immediately contacted Schumer's office. Within hours the situation was rectified, and Mary is back on the policy. "We are so grateful to the senator and ILIR for their efforts. We were so worried, we really didn't know what to do to get this fixed," the mother said.Mary's appointments with Sloan Kettering have been rescheduled for this week and it is the hope and prayers of her family and friends that her operation, scheduled for the end of the week, will see her body rid of all the cancer."It's also very important for people with children out there to realize that there is insurance available free of charge to children," said the little girl's mother."Everyone should have insurance for their children because you just never know when it is needed."It was through the Aisling Irish Center that Mary's mother initially found out about Fidelis, and although they have been given the run around the past few weeks Mary's family is just grateful that they are able to provide the necessary insurance to treat the little girl.Sister Christine Hennessy of the Aisling Center told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that Fidelis Care have "always responded to calls for assistance from particular individuals and families, and have come to the center on many occasions throughout the years to meet with people," she said, adding,"Fidelis have even gone to the homes of those individuals who wish to enroll."Mary's family, although anxious and worried about her health, feel a weight has been lifted from their shoulder thanks to the intervention of Schumer and ILIR."We just don't know what we would have done if the senator and ILIR weren't able to help us. We are just very thankful to them and all the people who got us back on track with the insurance company," said Mary's grateful mother.

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