Roy Fulps service in the US Navy took him to the Pacific during the tense early years that led up to the Vietnam War. That service is allowing the 80-year-old Northern Kentucky resident to receive life-saving medical care arranged by the Cincinnati VA Medical Center, but the journey is a long one.
Fulps was diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, an enlarged area in the main vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. A rupture can cause life-threatening bleeding.
"It's reaching bursting stage, so that's why they wanted to do this operation, see if they can slow that down," Fulps told WCPO’s Craig McKee.
The first hurdle Fulps and his family faced is the type of surgery he needs is not available in Cincinnati due to the size of the stent graft needed to repair the aneurysm. He was referred to Patrick Kelly, MD, a vascular surgeon some four states away in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The second hurdle they faced was the cost. The VA was able to cover the cost of the surgery and post-op care at 100%, but not the travel, lodging, and other expenses needed for a recovery of at least 30 days in South Dakota.
When Roy didn’t qualify for the VA’s regular travel service providers, they turned to Easterseals. "The VA travel coordinator contacted us directly and says, 'I have a veteran that the VA can't provide travel services for,'" said Scott Robinson, director of Easterseals Military & Veteran Services in Cincinnati.
“For us at Easterseals, the request was, 'Can we help with transportation?' And that's where we stepped in and said we will buy those tickets on the spot (to) get you to the surgery," Robinson said.
Fulps and his son Roger, who lives in Washington, left for South Dakota on June 27. Roger will serve as his father’s medical attendant during the 30 day recovery.
"We're working with connections in South Dakota to see if there is a similar organization like ourselves to help offset the funds. We know the family is facing a financial burden to get through this," Robinson said.
In the meantime, Easterseals supporters and viewers of Craig McKee’s Homefront on WCPO 9, are stepping up to help the family during their time of need. A fundraising page has been established to help the Fulps cover the cost of their lodging, food, and other expenses during the recovery.
The call to help the family was especially personal to Robinson. “My father died from this very same thing. My father had an abdominal aneurysm and it ruptured while he and I were standing talking. He died in my arms," he recalls.
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