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12:53 p.m. ET UPDATE:
I just got a surprise: My cell phone rang and it was Catherine Herridge's husband, JD. He said, "Catherine wants to talk to you." I was excited to hear from her... her voice is very, very strong (although there was a slight slur that I detected: pain medication, of course. She is cut from one side to the other and cut inside as well! She mentioned the slurring and we both laughed a bit... so she also has her sense of humor!) I told her about all the e-mails from viewers and she was grateful. She said she will be in the ICU a day or so longer than expected, which means she will be there until sometime this weekend. She has not seen Peter, but has been told by JD that he is doing well. As soon as she gets out of the ICU she can see Peter… needless to say, she is anxious to see him.
Check out the pictures posted today. I took the pics last week in the FOX News L.A. bureau. When our show travels to Los Angeles, the L.A. bureau is our home. They take very good care of us — including putting together the set seen in one of the pics. The L.A. bureau also makes room for us in other ways: workspace, computers, printers, etc. In short, they generously make us feel at home.
Also, check out this link.
This is a news story done by a local television in Pittsburgh about Catherine Herridge and her son, Peter. I watched it and found it very helpful in understanding the medical procedure both Catherine and her son underwent.
And, while I am on the topic of Catherine and Peter (who are both doing very well), check out the e-mails two of my colleagues received yesterday from the hospital:
E-mail No. 1
Dear Jeff and Paul,
Catherine's nurse just phoned me and says at the family's request, in lieu of flowers and gifts, the family is requesting donations made to a living liver donor family transplant fund at UPMC. We are in the process of establishing an account and contact information through our transplant's financial office. Once I have all the information, I will e-mail it to you ASAP.
If possible, Catherine would like this information posted on Greta’s blog.
UPMC News Bureau
Apparently viewers and friends have been very, very generous and Catherine wants to convert that generosity into a special fund for other families. If you scroll down, you will find another e-mail (E-mail No. 2) — received last night — from Maureen McGaffin with instructions how we can all donate money to others with problems similar to those Catherine and her family are now conquering.
Imagine if all our blog readers (almost 100,000) donated $20 each — that could bring in a quick $2 million! Of course, do the math: If we all donated $30, etc. And, if we could get the "On the Record" watchers (more than a 1,000,000 each night), that amount would be... well, you do the math. I barely got through high school math. (Although, I did get farther in math than chemistry.)
Bottom line: We can all individually donate even a small amount and jointly save lives. What a thrill! (And we didn't have to go to medical school to do it!)
One other thing: There has been so much attention on Catherine and Peter, that I have neglected to mention something else to you... and that is Peter's father, Catherine's husband, JD. He is a really good guy. It has not been easy for him, either. I guess in some ways Catherine had it "easy" on Monday: She was "out" during the 11-hour surgery. And JD? He was pacing the floor, very worried with both wife and son in a very serious surgeries. He was on pins and needles bouncing between two operating theatres, getting multiple updates, plus watching a very active 19 month old.
Here is the second e-mail from Maureen McGaffin with how we can all donate and be part of others lives:
E-mail No. 2:
From: McGaffin, Maureen
Subject: UPMC living liver donor fund on behalf of Catherine Herridge and family
If you would like to make a gift in the name of Catherine Herridge in support of living-donor liver transplantation:
Check payable to STI
Write living-donor liver in the memo section.
Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute
3459 Fifth Ave.
UPMC Montefiore, N-725
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
To pay with your VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Card, call the Medical and Health Sciences Foundation at (412) 647-3048. Be sure to mention that you wish to make the gift in support of living-donor liver transplantation.
Catherine Herridge recently donated a portion of her liver to her infant son. Read more about this family's living donation journey.
Now for some other emails:
E-mail No. 3
Our politicians are like children fighting in a classroom. And who knows what about anymore, because we can't hear them over the yelling. I can't get over it. Someone needs to step in and discipline them.
E-mail No. 4
Good Morning Greta,
Maybe the reason "our politicians have failed so miserably in working out a healthcare system" is that they have been too busy working on legislation banning gay marriage! Somebody has their priorities all screwed up. And you think YOU'VE had too much coffee!
It's a good news day: Catherine and little Peter doing well and Tiffany [Souer's] killer caught.
St. Louis, MO
E-mail No. 5
I work for a major telecom company (please don't disclose) and I always thought it was a waste of our company money to send sr. executives on personal trips with the corporate jet. After discussions with various co-workers I came around on the idea. Our execs work non-stop, and are in the public eye. They give up a lot of personal time that on the whole we as corporate bees are unaware of. In the end we don't want them flying commercially. The corp jet enables them to get to where they need to go quickly and safely (let's hope). Most of these guys are flying back and forth to NYC, various company offices, meetings and such. The only time I feel a bit un-easy about the whole deal is when I hear that the family dog is on the jet.
ANSWER: I am talking about personal use of the jets.
E-mail No. 6
I agree it should not be necessary for Congress to need rules for behavior that we find odious. But I remind you that St. Paul tells us that, "The Law was given too make sin exceedingly sinful." And where there is no law there is no transgression. The rules have to be specified so that even Congress malefactors know the limits, otherwise they can get around vague ethics.
E-mail No. 7
Based on the turnout at the polls yesterday, 26% of Californians are entitled to have an opinion.
The rest need to shut the f-up.
Santa Ana, CA
E-mail No. 8
We've been following with the story of the lady from FOX who has donated part of her liver to her baby. Stories of transplants are of special interest to us because I had a liver transplant 5 years ago on June 16 and am doing very well.
There have been several reports on TV and newspapers pointing out the problems and shortcomings of the transplant program. What we need is more stories like yours showing the success.
The U.S. Transplant Games will be held in Louisville KY next week June 15 thru the 21st.These games are held every 2 years, the last one in Minneapolis, MN in 2004 which we attended. At that event over 5000 various transplant recipients and another 15,000 family members and friends were in attendance from all 50 states.
The 2006 Games should be larger yet. It would be extremely helpful if more national TV coverage was given to events like this, showing the successes of the transplant program. This would be very helpful in increasing organ donations and awareness.
E-mail No. 9
Have the extra coffee! While you are writing about the golden parachutes, check out Albertson’s (Boise, Idaho) departing CEO, Larry Johnston. He came on board, sunk the ship and is departing with an unbelievable amount of money and benefits — including over $12 million to pay his taxes. It’s shameful.
E-mail No. 10
I agree with you, Greta, about the politicians and their tunnel vision! They seem to get concentrated on one thing and forget the really important issues out here. Health care is so vital to all of us, and since we are facing a future of having only Medicare and finding out that Medicare will not honor hardly any of the medications we are on, this is a real problem for us, and I imagine thousands of others. Yes, why do they have to even accept gifts or bribes, or whatever else they think they must do?
J. Gayle Kretschmer
E-mail No. 11
Greta, please don't call for Congress to fix our health care system. Every time they touch something, there is so much lobby money flowing, that by the time they get done, we have no idea what they have done, and it always hurts the American people. I say, we, the public could fix it. If someone would establish a foundation, where we could donate money, the people who manage it, would work for free, then anyone who needs a life saving operation, a transplant, or anything else, would get the money from there. No one should go with out life saving medicine in America. We donated about a billion dollars for Katrina, we donated about 150 million or more for the tsunami, I think we could raise a lot more to save the lives of people. As for Congress and its "free" money and gifts, until we have another party to elect, were stuck with "stupid."
E-mail No. 12
Great show Tuesday night! First of all, I am delighted to hear the news about Catherine and Peter. The whole world should be proud of her. She has made the ultimate sacrifice for her child. The media does not show this side of the news. However, I remembered Catherine being a correspondent for FOX and wondered what happen to her. I always loved her reporting. As for Congress, I am disgusted with the Democrats and the Republicans too. They are only interested in hiding their sins and their re-election. They do not care for the people of this nation.
Mary J. Pack
St. Clairsville, OH
E-mail No. 13
I just wanted to say that the University of Pittsburgh transplant team is great! My daughter also has Biliary Atresia. My brother's best friend is related to Dr. Starzel and when he found out what was going on he got us in contact with him. The whole staff is wonderful. We love them all. My husband donated part of his liver to our daughter and she is on a low level of medication. We did have a bumpy start but things are going great. My daughter is now 2 and she is very normal. We think of everyone on the transplant floor and the team as a family. Both adult team and peds team are wonderful. I would love to personally name everyone, to thank them but I'm afraid I'd forget someone.
I am glad that Dr. Starzel did the first liver transplant, we are very grateful to his pioneering.
Our prayers are with Catherine and her family and if she wants to trade stories we'd be glad too.
Also doing a book and taking pictures of it is a wonderful idea. I have pictures of Rob in ICU and Sarah in ICU so that everyone will know what heroes they are.
E-mail No. 14
I wish our lawmakers would come up with something to make health care more affordable, mainly health insurance. Our situation: My husband is self-employed, I am a homemaker and we have 2 children. For over 20 years he has worked to build a successful small business, provided for our family, which enabled me to quit my job at a bank to stay home and care for our children. We felt it was the right thing to do for our family. We're not rich, but we are living comfortably within our means, have college funds for both kids, saved responsibly, etc. The biggest problem: our health insurance. Our premiums, due every other month, are more than our house payment is per month! The last 6-8 years we have seen huge rate hikes in our premiums. Our coverage is horrible and over the years we have raised the level of our deductible to be able to afford it, but even after each increase we are notified a couple of months later that "in an attempt to keep premiums from being raised, your coverage is being changed to..." which results in a decrease in benefits. Our current deductible is $2,500 per person, 70%/30% plan AFTER the deductible has been met. Now they have added on a $35 co-pay per office visit. Not a problem since I have to pay all costs out of pocket whenever we see the doctor or have tests, but this $35 is not applied to our deductible. It's just another slap in the face.
My daughter had a broken collarbone, I took her to the E.R. on a weekend evening and our insurance company isn't paying one thin dime. That all comes out of pocket for us. While in the emergency room I watched several families checking in with their Medi-Cal insurance card, knowing that they will not pay one cent for the treatment they will be receiving, the same treatment and same doctors that my daughter saw that I will be paying the full price for out of pocket. It's very frustrating. If you have no insurance at all and don't qualify for welfare, the hospital will give you a discounted price on services if you have to pay cash. But because we are responsible people, work, pay our bills, pay for health care coverage (so that in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury we don't lose all we have worked for), we are being penalized! I get no discount, no free services, and I am responsible for the entire payment even though I pay a fortune for insurance! Blue Cross gets over $1,100 every other month, and I get NOTHING in return except the "peace of mind" of knowing that we will not be in financial ruin if one of us needs surgery or is hospitalized. It is so frustrating to me that I have been in tears over this at times. You build a life, you do the best you can for your children, you plan, you save (because it's a small business we don't have anyone funding a retirement plan for us either) and you try to live the "American Dream," and you are penalized for being financially responsible! Yet, time and again, I have sat in the waiting room of the E.R. late at night with my mother who was having chest pain, surrounded by people who are holding their Medi-Cal card and have brought in their 7 year old with the flu or an ear infection. All being paid for by the State of California, courtesy of me, the taxpayer! I've tried this from every angle, talked to our insurance company, the doctors offices, the billing department at the hospitals to see if there is any way of getting around this and unfortunately I was told by the hospital that because I DO have insurance coverage, I get no "out of pocket" discount. I had a health issue last year, and I paid $2,489 for an MRI. My PET scan was done after I met the $2,500 deductible, and I was still responsible for the 30% copay, which was almost $900. I required surgery for a rare tumor, and even though we have a "maximum out of pocket" limit of $7,000 we still had to pay around $13,500.00 for tests and surgery out of pocket. (Thank God we had the money in savings to pay for it.) This is our reality. And we are not alone. There are millions of people in the same situation. So our lawmakers sit down and look at the numbers with the insurance companies, and they deal with the masses, but when it breaks down like this it's not very pretty. They obviously have their own mathematical system in the insurance business.
E-mail No. 15
Yes, your story has inspired me. I so appreciate Catherine and her family sharing this experience with the public. My daughter is on the waiting list for a new liver, and we were just told that it would be in her best interest to look at liver donors if she does not receive a liver in two months. My sister and I are in the process of being evaluated. I am watching this story closely and praying for Catherine and Peter.
ANSWER: Like you, Catherine's story inspires me. I hope your daughter gets a liver, but if you donate part of yours, I think you will find it rewarding AND successful.
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