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State of the Heart: A Medical Tourist's True Story of Lifesaving Surgery in India

By Maggi Ann Grace

Publisher: New Harbinger Publications,U.S

Price: £11.27

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In 2004, at the age of fifty-three, self-employed contractor Howard Stabb 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 the hospital will even admit Stabb, they demand a $50,000 deposit, money that Stabb and his partner, author Maggi Grace, do not have. Seeking some alternative that might allow him to undergo the life-saving treatment, Stabb implores the hospital to charge him the discounted rate available to insurance companies. The hospital refuses. Because his condition is already diagnosed, Stabb is ineligible for private medical insurance, and he earns too much money to qualify for state medical assistance. And he certainly can't scrape together $200,000 in his condition.

As Stabb and Grace frantically search for solutions, Grace's son, a medical student who has spent time working in hospitals in India, recommends that they contact the Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi. When they do, they learn that the institute can perform the procedure. And the cost for the surgery and aftercare - only $10,000. 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.

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