Howard Staab, who has no
health insurance, took a gamble in September and traveled to India for
heart surgery. The procedure would have cost an estimated $200,000 at
Durham Regional Hospital -- a sum the self-employed carpenter-contractor
couldn't afford. Despite a few complications, Staab returned a month
later, having paid only $7,000 for surgery by Indian doctors. Still, back
in Durham, his cardiologist checked him into Durham Regional hospital for
a few days because she worried that blood clots that resulted from the
operation might cause a stroke. Staab worried about what the bill would be
for the hospital stay; he still hasn't received one.
Now, Staab is back at work, according to his partner, Maggi Grace. He
was strong enough to build a cabinet for a friend for Christmas. He's
regained the weight he'd lost. He'll be on blood thinners for a few more
On Dec. 5, the couple hosted a party to thank all their supporters.
They wore Indian clothes and served the delicacies they brought back from
their journey. There was mango juice and Indian beer. There was dancing.
"I'd say 50 to 75 people showed up to wish Howard well and help us
celebrate and welcome home his new heart," Grace wrote in an e-mail. "We
ate and drank and danced! Just like we had talked about in India."
increasingly find health care abroad (09/23/2004)
surgery leaves no regrets (11/05/2004)