Madera woman's family bracing for double-lung transplant costs

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The family of a 29-year-old Madera woman dealing with COVID complications is now bracing for the cost of a cure. Doctors say a new set of lungs is her only chance for survival.

Brittany Romena's family has spent weeks by her bedside at Madera Community hospital as she struggles to breathe while intubated.

Her mother says the 29-year-old contracted COVID while celebrating the new year in Las Vegas. Days later, she came down with symptoms. By January 11, she was having severe difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Brittany wasn't vaccinated at the time and her mother says asthma made matters worse. Brittany was eventually diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.

"There is no coming back from that. Her lungs are done," said her mother, Kristina Chapa. "Since the 22nd, she's been intubated. She has been on life support and it's just day by day."

Brittany's family says her case has been referred to Stanford's Transplant Program. And now, they wait.

RELATED: Madera woman with COVID-19 needs lung transplant to survive

"She will not live if she does not get the lungs," said Chapa. "She is only 29 years old."

In the meantime, the family is scrambling to prepare for the out-of-pocket costs when the call does come, upwards of tens of thousands of dollars to get her transported and ready for surgery.

"The moment that you are diagnosed and you are told that there is a solution to your problem, you also find out there's a price tag on your life," said Kelly Green, Executive Director of Help Hope Live.

The non-profit helps families navigate the expenses of medical procedures like this. Green says the average cost of a double-lung transplant is $1.3 million before insurance. Brittany's family says they are relying on medical coverage.
"No matter how good your insurance is, whether you have insurance or not, there are always out-of-pocket expenses," said Green.

Brittany's family continues to wait for the green light for a transplant.

"To be honest, I stopped counting the days because it is so discouraging," said her mother.

Her mother and fiance say they are determined not to let the price stand in the way of her returning home healthy.

"I mean, I'll do whatever it takes, you know?"

Help Hope Live is organizing a fundraiser dedicated to Brittany's medical expenses. It can be found here.
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