Austrian clinic demands terminally ill Ukrainian to pay bills of previous patients

Maksym Stasiv, photo by Emma Maieva 

More, Ukraine

Ukrainian Maksym Stasiv with a rare life-threatening pathology was denied surgery in Austrian clinics despite the needed costs having been allocated. Not only did the hospital double the price, it also demanded the family to pay debts of previous Ukrainian patients.

Maksym Stasiv lived 17 years of his life as an ordinary boy. However, his name became famous in the recent weeks in Ukraine. Just a few months ago, surgeons were forced to remove most of his intestines due to a rare pathology. Intravenous feeding could keep him alive only for a few weeks.

Without a transplantation he was doomed to die, so the challenge needed to be solved soon: his parents needed to find the clinics capable of such unusual surgeries, which are more complicated than a transplantation of the heart and are not done in Ukraine.

Costs for a surgery were gathered by Ukrainians worldwide

Ukraine is a country where the average monthly wage is EUR 215. After the threefold depreciation of the Ukrainian hryvnia, a consequence of Russian aggression in Ukraine, most people are barely making ends. Were Maksym left to his own means, this diagnosis would be identical to a death sentence.

Luckily, Maksym’s family wasn’t alone: many media gave the call for the donations which were accepted in churches and online. Ukraine’s MFA and diplomats joined the battle to save Maksym’s life. Volunteers reached out to hospitals around the world to find one that would take on Maksym’s case.

An Indian hospital agreed to provide a surgery for EUR 70,000, but the long airflight would put the patient under too much risk. It seemed that the perfect solution was found as the clock for Maksym’s life was ticking: an Austrian clinic that would charge EUR 250,000. Over only one week, Ukrainians near and far gathered the necessary amount of money. The biggest obstacle came from the most unexpected side.

Austrian hospital doubled the price and demanded to pay debts of previous patients

The Land Hospital of Innsbruck, Austria (Landeskrankenhaus Innsbruck) imposed unfeasible conditions on which they would accept Maksym, according to Oleksandr Shcherba, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Austria.

The hospital requested to receive EUR 250,000 on its banking account plus another EUR 250,000 as a bank guarantee from an Austrian bank. Doubling the price wasn’t enough though, and Landeskrankenhaus Innsbruck demanded to return the EUR 61,000 debt of its previous Ukrainian patients along with the guarantee that Maksym would not remain in Austria.

“The financial management of the hospital called the Austrian Embassy in Kyiv and asked not to issue visa to the young man until those conditions were met. As a result, the mother spent three days in Kyiv needlessly waiting for a visa while her son was between Earth and Heaven in Lviv,” Shcherba wrote.

Those conditions were impossible to meet given Maksym’s critical condition, so after wasting so much precious time the family turned to Indian clinics.

The Austrian ambassador in Kyiv, Hermine Poppeller, had campaigned alongside the Tyrolean Parliament President Herwig van Staa personally for treatment of the young man in Austria. As Austrian local newspaper Kleine Zeitung cites, Poppeller regrets the failure of these efforts. Without the hospital’s declaration of accepting the patient, the Embassy was not allowed to issue a visa for Maksym.

Landeskrankenhaus Innsbruck, photo

Landeskrankenhaus Innsbruck, photo

Innsbruck clinics claims the costs were reasonable

Contacted by the Austria Presse Agentur, the clinics confirmed that it didn’t sign the contract with the Ukrainian patient and confirmed the conditions mentioned by the Ukrainian Ambassador, including the repayment of EUR 61,000 charges of other Ukrainian patients.

The spokeswoman for the Tirol clinics stated that the clinics was not capable of accommodating all requests for reimbursement of very expensive treatments of foreign patients and could not make any commitments before the clarification of the financing, Kleine Zeitung reports.

“The allocation of costs is subject to the provisions of the Austrian hospital financing system. The sums mentioned are no fancy price, but result from the costs of the operation and uncertainties calculated in advance that could lead to a significant increase in costs,” she said.

According to the clinic, in two similar cases the final cost was EUR 180,000-200,000.  In Maksym’s case, the clinic states, a signal from Ukraine had been received that EUR 200,000 were available and another EUR 150,000 could have been provided by the Ukrainian government upon request.

On late Friday night the plane with Maksym on board landed in India where the local doctors are to take care of him now.

“He is still in severe condition which the Indian doctors will try to stabilize in the recent days. We are afraid of giving prognosis now, his fate is being decided now. Depending on how soon the donor organ is obtained and how strong his body is, his life will hang upon now,” says the statement on MedIndia Facebook profile, a company that brought Maksym to clinics in India.



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