CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - A Chesapeake man will get the potentially life-saving surgery he needs. Tuesday, the 35-year-old's insurance company decided to cover the procedure after initially declining coverage.
Last week, WAVY.com told you about Chesapeake's Jonathan Derrick. Derrick needs a rare kind of cancer operation to save his life. Optima Health -- his health insurance provider -- originally said it would not pay for out-of-state treatment, and the treatment he needed is only available in New York.
Now, the Derrick family has a new reason to be optimistic.
"It just means hopefully a long life to go," Derrick said.
"This is our second chance," added Derrick's wife Kelli.
A trip to the doctor six months ago revealed Jonathan was suffering from rectal cancer. Then it moved into his liver. Optima Health sent Jonathan to several doctors around the area. He went through radiation and chemo, but nothing worked.
"Now he's on no treatment because his body's not responding to treatment," Kelli added.
But then a breakthrough: one of the doctors they were seeing through Optima suggested an innovative procedure called "hepatic arterial infusion," a process that could directly fight his cancer.
The doctor sent Optima a letter saying Jonathan's prognosis was grim and he should go to New York's Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that specializes in the procedure. The letter said Sloan-Kettering has resources that aren't available anywhere in Virginia. Optima approved Derrick to go to New York for a second opinion.
During the trip, doctors at Sloan-Kettering set up surgery for July 2, but then Optima denied Jonathan's claim and referred him to the UVA Medical Center.
Kelli Derrick filed an appeal with Optima, and Tuesday the claim was approved.
"It's almost like a boxing match," said Jonathan. "You stay beat up most of the time and then there's the few hits you get in. You just feel good you got some good news. [WAVY] came last time with the news interview and just a couple days later it finally happened."
The Derricks leave Wednesday to head to New York. Surgery is scheduled for next week.
Optima Health says anyone has a right to file an appeal. WAVY.com was told Optima researches your concerns and then makes a timely decision. Click here for more information about Optima's Appeals Process.
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