Interview with Maggi Ann Grace, author of State of the Heart

In 2004 Howard Staab found out he would need surgery to repair a failing heart valve. Unfortunately for Howard he was uninsured. Unable to afford the $200,000 cost for the surgery in North Carolina, but too well off for Medicaid, Howard didn’t know what to do.

His partner, Maggi Ann Grace, tried negotiating with Durham Regional Hospital. She offered to pay the hospital the discounted rate that an insurance company would pay. No dice, said the hospital CEO and CFO.

Maggi’s son had spent a summer in India after his first year of medical school and he suggested the radical idea of having the surgery done in India. So eventually Maggi and Howard went to the Escorts Heart Institute in New Delhi, where Howard underwent successful surgery for under $10,000.

Maggi’s new book about that experience is called State of the Heart: A Medical Tourist’s True Story of Lifesaving Surgery in India. She’s also created a website with updated information and her speaking schedule. I spoke with Maggi about it this afternoon for MedTripInfo.

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