John's Story

My name is John. I am 19 years old. My dad first took me to the emergency room of a local hospital in January 2009. I was having severe abdominal pains. After several tests, I learned that I had chronic cholecystitis and needed surgery. I was told to follow up with a surgeon.

My dad scheduled an appointment with the recommended surgeon but was told by his office that an $800 down payment was required. So, we left. I had been working but was laid off in December. I live with my dad, who draws disability, and lives in a mobile home park. My mother passed away three years ago.

After a few weeks of unresolved pain, I went back to the same emergency room a second time doubled over with pain, diarrhea and vomiting. They saw me but would not admit me for surgery because we had no money. After the third episode, my dad took me to a second hospital where they treated me in the emergency room, but they would not admit me to the hospital for surgery.

Less than two months later, I returned to the first hospital, at which point I had lost 17 pounds and had endured four excruciating episodes with no long-term medical solution. They would not admit me to the emergency room. We were told they could do nothing further until we had followed up with a surgeon.

Someone there told my dad about Friendship Medical Clinic. We went directly there and were told that they would not have another volunteer doctor in until Monday. They recommended that we go to a local community health center that receives federal money and has paid doctors at the center all day. A staff person at the clinic said hopefully they could get me admitted to the hospital that day or by Friday.

The staff at Friendship Medical Clinic said to come back first thing Monday, if the community health care center could not assist me. While I was there, I filled out an application and signed a release form, so they could get my medical records from both hospitals in case I came back on Monday. They assured my dad that they could find a surgeon who would do the surgery if the health center would not help me.

We went back to the clinic that Monday. The doctor saw me first, reviewed the hospital reports, then asked the director to try and find a surgeon right away. She came back in less than 15 minutes, and told us it must be my lucky day because that surgeon just had a cancellation.

My appointment was in 45 minutes. I saw the surgeon and he scheduled me for surgery the next day.

My gall bladder ruptured during the surgery, so the surgeon removed it. He later told me there was chronic inflammation and that the neck of the gall bladder was packed with stones. He said he had never seen a patient with so many stones.

Our landlord paid a $400 down payment and my dad worked out a low monthly payment plan.

My dad and I know Friendship Medical Clinic saved my life, and we are incredibly grateful.

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