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This fundraiser ended on 08/10/12

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The friends of Anna Gardiner are uniting to raise funds to help with the medical costs of treatments not covered by Medicare.

Since high school Anna aspired to become a humorist, writing lightheartedly about what someday might become a screenplay. She planned to draw ideas from her life experiences but never imagined the storyline would evolve from a near death experience that left her disabled and broke due to doctors' failure to correctly diagnose her for 57 years.

The tragedy should be an episode on Discovery Channel's "Mystery Diagnosis."

Anna was born with Hirschsprung's Disease, a congenital condition in which the colon is non-functional. The condition creates a toxic environment that snowballs throughout the body as a precursor to cancer. Infections and inflammation wreak havoc on organs and bone.

Anna's mom (with similar symptoms) died of carcinoma at age 63 after enduring an excruciating year of painful cancer treatments that only caused more harm.

Anna was lucky enough to finally get Social Security Disability and Medicare, which allowed her to find a surgeon to remove her colon. She still needs therapies to address arthritic damage and bone degeneration from all the inflammation, and these treatments are not covered by Medicare.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy is a non-surgical treatment that relieves pain caused by severe osteoarthritic musculoskeletal conditions, including radiculopathies (pinched nerves). Doctors have determined this therapy is "medically necessary" for her. Still Medicare only covers this for select patients, and she is not among them.

Recipients swear by PRP's effectiveness. Many athletes' careers were saved by this therapy. Yet mainstream coverage of PRP would likely shift business away from those promoting much more expensive and lucrative back and joint surgeries, which often fail to provide the needed pain relief.

Not getting this treatment is what is keeping Anna from becoming "undisabled" and living her dream of helping others get the treatments they need.

Finding physicians with the skill and knowledge to help her heal cost Anna every penny she had. Medicare paid for two surgeries: first at the Cleveland Clinic to repair an internal intussusception (intestinal blockage) and then at Allegheny General Hospital for a total colectomy (the only treatment for Hirschsprung's Disease.)

She is now trying to reverse the cumulative damage from not being diagnosed for decades.

In her own words, Anna says, "I need treatment to continue to again do what many take for granted. I want to be a contributing member of my community and share what I've learned so maybe someone else won't have to go through what I did. I believe obtaining the right medical care shouldn't be this hard. Patients shouldn't have to embark on lengthy explorations just to find out about therapies they need. Patients shouldn't have to go bankrupt to get the care they need. Help me get well so that I can help you the only way I know how -- by shedding light on needed changes to our broken medical care system."

More of Anna's quest can be found at
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