"Gary didn't want to die," exclaims his Mom Felicia.
If only, the healthcare system didn't fail him.
Gary was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic in his teens. He couldn't go to college because managing his insulin at the time, was a struggle on his own. So, he started on his own with an entrepreneurial spirt acting, making music, and creating art.
Gary's Shoe Artwork
"He was always a happy guy no matter what was going on with his health," explains Felicia.' She goes on to say, "He was always smiling and telling jokes as he loved to make people laugh!"
He seemed to getting by in life and despite his healthcare struggles until his insurance changed due to Obamacare. Several of his regular doctors who knew his situation best, refused future care as they no longer aligned with his insurance. Gary had to start over under new care and that's when he started falling through the cracks.
The way Felicia describes it is they would tell him his kidneys are fine and his heart is fine and his legs are fine.... clear up to the point where they're not! At each inflection point, few options were offered to help him live a better quality of life.
The final straw for Felicia and Gary to both decide they needed to seek out help elsewhere was when his podiatrist had already performed a trans-metatarsal amputation on one foot and was suggesting a below-the-knee amputation along with a trans-metatarsal on his other foot. They separately found The Way To My Heart and reached out, one through our Leg Saver Hotline, the other through a submission form on its website.
The Way To My Heart P.A.D. Navigators were able to get him in touch with Dr. Athar Ansari, who was able to revascularize his narrowed leg vessels and prevent further amputation. He was also able to clear coronary blockages but had to defer to his supervising cardiothoracic surgeon to address structural issues. Complications during the open heart procedure resulted in Gary being placed on life support. At one point, the supervising physician told Felicia she needed to strongly consider 'pulling the plug' as he would not recover.
Felicia was about to give in to the supervising physician's suggestion when she reached out for support from The Way To My Heart. P.A.D. Navigators asked when about whether they confirmed brain death and the criteria they were using to determine Gary wouldn't recover. It led to more questions than answers, so P.A.D. Navigators reached out to Dr. Ansari for assistance. He called the supervising physician to discuss Gary's case and Gary was granted the opportunity a few more weeks to see if he would come around...and he did. Gary was able to breathe on his own, started walking down the halls of the hospital, and became ready for rehab just weeks later!
When he was released to a rehab center is when he transitioned six months later due to what his Mom describes as "sub-standard care." She blames lack of skilled clinical care for him in the rehab facility and lack of attention to his daily care as the reasons for his ultimate demise there. But overall, she believes it should never have even reached the point where it did. During our interview she expresses concern about racial and economic injustices coupled with lack of communication amongst his healthcare team over the years, as well as pure 'neglect' as the reasons for his premature passing.
To understand more about the details of his care and what Gary, his Mom and their entire family went through, please listen to this powerful interview below.
His Mom reached out to Kym and said, "Gary would want his story to be told so that no other has to suffer as he did."
So Felicia courageously came on in hopes that what NEVER should've happened to Gary, should EVER happen to anyone else.