Milwaukee, WI -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/07/2015 -- Nataline Mary Sarkisyan (Armenian: July 10, 1990 – December 20, 2007) was an American teenager with recurrent leukemia. Her case became part of the health care reform debate in the United States in 2007 when Cigna HealthCare denied coverage for a liver transplant operation. The company later reversed its decision after a great deal of media attention to her story, but Sarkisyan died hours later.
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Diagnosed with leukemia at age 14, Nataline Sarkisyan had health insurance coverage under the employer coverage of her parents. Physicians informed the family and insurance company, Cigna HealthCare, that patients in similar circumstances have a six-month survival rate of 65% after a liver transplant. The likelihood of success of the recommended procedure was questioned. Dr. John Roberts, chief of the transplant service at UC San Francisco (not the transplant center treating Sarkisyan), stated that his center generally does not accept a patient without a 50% or greater five year survival rate. Please DONATE TODAY to help children with cancer!
Among the groups who publicly spoke out against Cigna's decision was the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. After public media attention grew, Cigna reversed its decision, but offered to pay for the transplant itself when it made the exception to the policy. Cigna's reversal of its policy, offering to pay for the transplant, came several hours before Sarkisyan's death. The annual proceeds of ticket sales to the fashion show, together with benevolent contributions to Fashion Legacy, will provide grant scholarships to eligible students attending a fashion or culinary learning institute, Medical school or Photography. Help Nataline Sarkisyan Succeed!
Years later, the Sarkisyan family continues to cherish Nataline's big dream of becoming a fashion-designer by holding an annual Fashion Show called: "Nataline's Fashion Legacy." It is help every July to celebrate her birthday. "I will continue my daughter's legacy; I will continue my fight to save innocent lives, and to make changes to our healthcare system. My mission is to replace the "Erisa Law" to "Nataline's Law" for NO more denial. My message to all the parents out there: Love and enjoy your children and tell them how much you love them every day." (Health Advocate, Hilda Sarkisyan)
Nataline's dreams will, in turn, help one of her peers live their dream. The Fashion-Legacy was created to honor Nataline Sarkisyan and the aspirations she had. Despite being diagnosed with leukemia, there were some things which leukemia just could not take from Nataline. Her teenage dreams and hopes of organizing and holding a fashion show. Nataline lost her courageous battle on December 20, 2007, but her big dream will be fulfilled and her loving, generous spirit will live on forever. Every July, in homage to Nataline's birthday, the Fashion-Legacy will be held. Help Make Nataline's Sarkisyan Dream Come True!
About The Foundation
Nataline's family set up the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation, which helps students who share Nataline's dreams of pursuing fashion design, culinary art and those who want to pursue careers in helping the ill. The Idea for the foundation started with a sketchbook. A sketchbook filled with one young girl's aspirations to become a fashion designer. From this sketchbook came the inspiration to hold an annual fashion show honoring its owner, Nataline Sarkisyan. After seventeen-year-old Nataline tragically lost her life to leukemia in December of 2007, her family sought refuge in the dreams she had left behind. Upon discovering Nataline's sketchbook and studying the pages of clothing she had designed, her family knew exactly how to celebrate their beloved daughter's memory.