Daily News--Los Angeles
Hundreds honor girl who needed liver transplant
By Dana Bartholomew, Staff Writer
...Nataline Sarkisyan, the 17-year-old Northridge girl whose death last week sparked a renewed call for health-care reform after she was twice denied a prescribed liver transplant, was buried Friday after a tear-streaked funeral.
The insurance company, which deemed the surgery experimental, stated it would pay for the procedure "in this rare and unusual case" after loud public protest.
Nataline's case drew national attention among health advocates and Armenian groups calling for reform.
"What happened here is a glaring example of what happens when you let the insurance companies decide who lives and who dies," said Geri Jenkins, co-president of the California Nurses Association, before she attended the funeral.
"We've put the insurance companies in the driver's seat - and that needs to change."
"We're here because of an insurance failure, not being able to get a patient in time," added Berdj Kasbarian, president of the Hye Riders Motorcycle Club, among two dozen Armenian bikers attending the service.
"We should change the health-care system to a European system, where everybody is covered."
...The day before Thanksgiving, her brother Bedig had donated his bone marrow. But because of her failing liver, doctors recommended a transplant.
On Dec. 11, Cigna denied a liver transplant for the girl, despite the pleadings of physicians at UCLA Medical Center where she was treated.