Some heart transplant patients struggle with post-op housing, but this jazz dancer wants to help: De…


“Once I advised him what I used to be doing, his first remark to me was ‘I believed you needed to be wealthy to get a coronary heart transplant.’” — Ava Kaufman, founding father of Ava’s Coronary heart.

She’s a 67-year-old former skilled jazz dancer with the center of a younger mom beating inside her. Ava Kaufman is her title, and she or he’s doing nicely for herself financially as of late, which is vital to say up entrance.

Not in addition to she was doing earlier than she fell gravely unwell and wanted a coronary heart transplant, however nicely sufficient to verify the field on the transplantation type asking if she had post-op housing for 3 months inside half an hour of Cedars-Sinai Medical Heart the place her transplant occurred eight years in the past.

With out proof and that verify within the field, there could be no transplant as a result of these 90 days after the operation are vital. That is when issues might go terribly unsuitable, and she or he’d should get to Cedars quick.

“I used to be lucky sufficient on the time to have nice insurance coverage, and to stay close to a tremendous transplant middle,” Ava mentioned.

Ron Yarbrough wasn’t as lucky. The 55-year-old truck driver lived close to Bakersfield and there was no method he might verify that field.

His sickness had already value him his job of 20 years and his residence on one-acre of property. He and his spouse, Karen, have been now dwelling in a small, RV trailer, they usually have been broke.

The Reasonably priced Care Act made a transplant attainable for him, however he might by no means give you the cash on his personal for a motel in or across the swanky Beverly Hills space the place Cedars is situated.

You’re fortunate to get an honest, clear room — a should for transplant recipients — for $150 an evening. With out the cash for 90 nights his title wouldn’t make the transplant record.

Cash. One girl had it, one man didn’t.

And that is what makes Ava Kaufman aces in my ebook. She didn’t neglect and transfer on. After her transplant, she started volunteering within the coronary heart clinic at Cedars and started to comprehend there was no assist for the individuals who couldn’t verify the field she might.

“When you have superb insurance coverage, possibly they cowl a month, however I’ve solely met two individuals whose insurance coverage lined it,” Ava mentioned

She started Ava’s Coronary heart, a charitable basis with the principle mission of discovering the cash to supply post-op housing for the Ron Yarbrough’s and others who couldn’t afford it.

“She principally saved my life,” Yarbrough mentioned this week, 9 month’s after his coronary heart transplant. He’s feeling stronger and able to get again to work. He and his spouse spent practically two months dwelling on the Highland Gardens Motel close to the hospital, with Ava’s Coronary heart choosing up the $100 an evening, particular fee tab.


“There’s no one on the market doing what Ava is making an attempt to do for individuals like me,” mentioned Yarbrough.

Cedars and Ronald Reagan/UCLA Medical Heart are two of the world’s largest transplant facilities. UCLA has the Tiverton Home — a 100-room lodge charging households round $130 an evening, however for many individuals needing lengthy, post-op stays that’s out of attain.

Cedars, which does extra coronary heart transplants than any hospital on the planet, has no post-op housing out there. “Once I requested them why, they mentioned they’re not within the lodge enterprise,” she mentioned.

A bit flippant, however true. They’re not. They’re within the enterprise of saving lives.

“There’s an amazing want for such a philanthropy, and that’s the place Ava’s Coronary heart is available in,” mentioned Dr. Mario Deng, an internationally famend coronary heart specialist at UCLA, who serves on the Ava’s Coronary heart advisory board.

“Ava is fostering a affected person’s fundamental human proper to not be disadvantaged of entry to care simply due to social disadvantages. Sadly, because of our fragmented well being care system on this nation, many individuals don’t have the means to pay for the required three month keep after the transplant.”

Individuals can query if well being care is a fundamental human proper, however whenever you’re going to die with out it and also you’ve spent each penny making an attempt to hold on – ready and praying to get on that valuable transplant record — is there actually any query left?

“I spoke with a really rich man who had a coronary heart transplant years in the past,” Ava mentioned. “Once I advised him what I used to be doing, his first remark to me was, ‘I believed you needed to be wealthy to get a coronary heart transplant.’

No, not anymore, Ava advised him.

“He hasn’t helped but,” she continued. “He offers some huge cash to issues he cares about. The issue with numerous very rich individuals is that they need to discover a remedy for this or a remedy for that.

“Largely, what I get is that they’re so appreciative of what I’m doing, I’m so superb, blah, blah, blah. They’ll write me a verify for $5,000 and go away. That actually doesn’t do something.”

What she wants is a wealthy benefactor who needs to champion this well being care challenge — somebody to step up and donate or purchase a six-unit condominium advanced inside 30 minutes of the hospital so extra individuals who have misplaced all the pieces to their sickness can get on that transplant record.

So, what do you say rich individuals? What’s it value to you to assist the Ron Yarbrough’s on this nation verify off that field?

For Ava, it’s value greater than she has, however she’s making an attempt.

For extra data on Ava’s Coronary heart, log on to, or name 310-779-6616.

Dennis McCarthy’s column runs on Fridays. He will be reached at


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