Cancer patient unable to go home due to issue with insurance company

HOUSTON – Justin Smith keeps the world abreast of his wife’s journey to beat cancer, sharing video blogs of her recovery from her hospital room at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

"She’s doing exceptionally well," Smith told KPRC2.

Breanna Smith, 30, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a blood cancer, in July 2016. Since April, Breanna Smith has received chemotherapy treatments at M.D. Anderson, moving temporarily to Houston from Alabama.

While here, Breanna had to be admitted into the ICU, her husband said, after falling ill with pneumonia and sepsis, as a result of her treatment. Smith is no longer in the ICU but has trouble using her arms and legs. Doctors have given her the green light to return to Alabama, where she’ll be admitted into a rehabilitation facility.

"What we’re trying to do is get her transferred to an acute rehab facility in Alabama, where we’re originally from,” Justin Smith said.

It seemed the Smiths had crossed a very high hurdle, getting the all clear to head home, but another challenge has them stuck in Houston.

"I never dreamed how extensive the process would be just to get a flight back home for somebody who can’t ambulate themselves,” Smith said.

Breanna Smith can’t quite use her arms and legs to move by herself. Moreover, with an oxygen tank and other attachments, Smith will need a special flight to get her home safely.

"I contacted an air ambulance service, several air ambulance services, that were in access of $9,000 to $11,000,” Justin Smith said.

Smith told KPRC2 his insurance denied the claim to fund the flight, ruling it wasn’t a medical necessity. That left the Smith’s to foot the bill themselves.

“Now that we have indeed gotten the green light to come back home, the level of discouragement is indescribable because it’s like we’ve been given something we can’t use,” Justin Smith said.

The Smiths chronicle their journey on a Facebook page. There’s also a GoFundMe account to raise money to pay for the flight and other expenses insurance will not cover.

The Smiths remain hopeful they’ll soon return home to family Alabama. Among those waiting is their 6-year-old son, who is under the watch of his grandparents, until mom and dad can come home.

"We will be very happy to see him again and he’s been missing his mother, as well,” Justin Smith said.