In 2004, at the age of fifty-three, self-employed contractor Howard Staab learns that a leaking mitral valve in his heart needs to be repaired. Left untreated, his doctors tell Stabb, his condition may kill him at any moment. The procedure to repair the heart valve costs at least $200,000 at the Durham Regional Hospital near Stabb's North Carolina home-if there are no complications. Before
This gripping memoir describes Stabb and Grace's experiences from the initial diagnosis through their trek to India, the operation Stabb undergoes, and the chilling dangers he faces after the surgery. In an afterword, the book offers resources for readers considering overseas health care, including hospital recommendations, visa and inoculation information, and things to look for when choosing an overseas health care provider. In all, the memoir alludes to the collective story of the more than 43 million uninsured Americans who face, everyday, the very real possibility that their lack of health insurance may either bankrupt or kill them-if not both.
This is a book that's hard to put down. At one level, it's the compelling story of a devoted and resourceful woman who travels with her partner to India to get him the life-saving surgery he can't afford in the United States. But it's also a sad commentary on the medical systems of both countries, where money is everything-it just happens to go farther in India.
-Marcia Angell, M. D., former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine