State of the Heart: A Medical Tourist's True Story of Lifesaving Surgery in India

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In 2004, at the age of fifty-three, self-employed contractor Howard Staab learns that a leaking mitral valve in his heart needs to be repaired. Left untreated, his doctors tell Stabb, his condition may kill him at any moment. The procedure to repair the heart valve costs at least $200,000 at the Durham Regional Hospital near Stabb's North Carolina home-if there are no complications. Before

This gripping memoir describes Stabb and Grace's experiences from the initial diagnosis through their trek to India, the operation Stabb undergoes, and the chilling dangers he faces after the surgery. In an afterword, the book offers resources for readers considering overseas health care, including hospital recommendations, visa and inoculation information, and things to look for when choosing an overseas health care provider. In all, the memoir alludes to the collective story of the more than 43 million uninsured Americans who face, everyday, the very real possibility that their lack of health insurance may either bankrupt or kill them-if not both.

This is a book that's hard to put down. At one level, it's the compelling story of a devoted and resourceful woman who travels with her partner to India to get him the life-saving surgery he can't afford in the United States. But it's also a sad commentary on the medical systems of both countries, where money is everything-it just happens to go farther in India.
-Marcia Angell, M. D., former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this inspiring, informative narrative, Grace explains how she and her partner decided to search abroad for health care. Grace and Howard Staab were just falling in love when, during a routine physical, he discovered he had a leaking mitral valve in his heart. A self-employed 53-year-old construction contractor, he had no health insurance. The hospital estimated his surgical bills would come to $200,000-if all went well. Grace, an artist who'd once worked in medical billing, tried to argue the fees down to what an insurance company would pay, but she was unpersuasive. They researched other options, including her medical student son's recommendation of a private hospital in India. Before long, the couple had a room at the Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi. A skilled team of doctors performed pre-op tests and then surgery-first to repair the valve, and then, when that didn't work, to replace it. The fee for both operations, plus extensive postoperative care, came to less than $10,000, which included looking after Grace's needs as well. Not only was the surgery successful, the hospital staff was well trained and well coordinated. While the North Carolina couple never got to do much tourism during their one-month stay, they do shed pleasant light on what seems to be a growing industry. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572244924
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications
  • Publication date: 8/1/2007
  • Series: Unassigned Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Maggi Grace is a writer, visual artist, and business consultant living in Carrboro, NC. She holds an MFA from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. She has taught writing for more than fifteen years to children and adults of all ages in classrooms, summer camps, shelters, prisons, at conferences and workshops.

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