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Family claims insurance keeping woman from receiving potential life-saving surgery

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A local woman fighting to survive is struggling to get the medical help she needs, and it's because she's caught in what some would call a numbers game.

"It shouldn't be about insurance or not. Everybody should be treated the same," said Brittani McDowell.

McDowell and her brother Mark McDowell say they're being forced to watch their mother travel down the slow path to her death. Kris Garza, 39, needs a miracle.

"We need something done," said James McNamara, who has dated Garza for many years.

It's a miracle McNamara said for which he's been praying for a long time. You see, Garza's genetic heart condition kicked in back in October. She was rushed to the hospital with congestive heart failure.

Surgeons installed a pacemaker and a defibrillator. She was released once she was strong enough. But she spent the next two months in and out of the hospital.

On Dec. 22, she was admitted into McLaren, and it was discovered both her liver and heart are failing. She's been there since, hooked up to a ventilator, with what the family says complete brain function, all while holding on to life.

"We're at a point where it's basically a money situation, and that's what it boils down to, so you know, it's just a sad situation," said McNamara.

McNamara said he believes Garza could live if she gets a heart and lung transplant, something that the family says her government-funded insurance won't pay for.

"Why is she still laying there? Why is nobody caring? Why? Because her insurance refuses every way we go, every turn we take, every acceptance we get, they deny the transplant," said her best friend Kelly McNamara.

And as they hold on to hope, they believe it boils down to one thing.

"What's more important? Life or money? To them, it's money," said McNamara.

The family did acknowledge some will look at Kris' case and say you get the care that you pay for. To that, they say she is a 39-year old, not an 89-year-old, mother of four who deserves a chance at survival, adding that she has too much of her life still ahead of her to be written off.

And they wanted to share their story in hopes somebody can steer them down the right path to find help.

You can get in touch with McNamara by calling (810) 293-6854 or Mark, Garza's son, at (810) 280-5070.

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