It has been two months since Leander veteran Charles Nelson received a life-saving kidney transplant. His son, Coty, was his donor. Both men are doing well but Nelson and his wife say their battle with the V.A., to help other veterans, is far from over.
"I'm feeling amazing. Like I am 28," says Nelson. The 48-year-old's health has improved dramatically since receiving his 28-year-old son's kidney on June 9. "I feel great. I'm getting around well, playing in the pool. Doing work, yard work, stuff like that."
Things Nelson didn't have the energy to do prior to his transplant surgery at University Hospital in San Antonio. What he doesn't feel great about though is how the V.A. treated him and his son.
The V.A. denied coverage for the kidney transplant operation through the Choice Program because Coty isn't a veteran. "I want to see Choice, if that is the program they are going to use, simplified and to get rid of the living donor part. I want to see them remove that out of there and have them be able to use it for non-veterans," said Nelson.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Veteran's Affairs, which wrote the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, agrees. "It seems as if the V.A. has created a technicality that doesn't exist. As basic common sense dictates that in cases of transplants, the donor's medical care is an essential part of the procedure.. Attempts to use the program as an excuse to deny veterans care are wrong and contrary to the spirit of the law," said Representative Jeff Miller.
The committee is currently looking into Nelson's case and how the V.A. handles transplants in relation to the Choice Program, which states veterans can use medical facilities of their choice if they live more than 40 miles from a V.A. hospital.
One of the revelations brought about by the inquiry was the V.A. admitting to the committee it began working on a contract to pay for Nelson's surgery just two days before the procedure.
A representative from the hospital tells FOX 7:
"A contract was offered to us on June 8 after Mr Nelson was admitted to University Hospital and less than a day before he was scheduled to undergo his transplant. To have our attorneys properly review and enter into that contract would have meant delaying his care for a considerable period so Medicare was billed instead."