While serving in the army, Charles Nelson developed kidney disease, after a bout of untreated strep throat. He was training overseas.
“The condition is called glomerulonephritis and so I needed a transplant
He ended up needing a kidney transplant - and, his son Coty was a match. In 2016, he went to the v-a transplant center in San Antonio where they told him the V.A.'s choice program would pay for the surgery. However, they later denied the coverage, because Coty wasn't a veteran.
“I felt like they were just waiting for him to die. He just kept getting sicker and sicker,” said Tamara Nelson, Charle’s wife.
Charles ended up fundraising and using Medicare to pay for the transplant. But his family felt no other veteran should have to go through this. So they got in touch with representative john carter that summer.
“In June I wrote a bill and we contacted Cornyn's office and we said hey we need you all to jump on board,” said Congressman John Carter, (TX-31).
On Wednesday, President Trump signed carter's veterans transplant coverage act into law as part of the The V.A. Mission Act.
Carter says his portion of the law is a small one but, has the potential to save more lives.
Before this bill, the V.A. denied coverage of transplants at non-V.A. hospitals if the donor wasn't a veteran, only offering to cover the surgery at V.A. transplant clinics, usually out of state.
“Your choice was back to Nashville or one of the other facilities,” said Nelson.
Now, veterans can choose their transplant facility and, living donors don't have to be veterans.
“It would end up being cheaper for our taxpayers. The V.A. takes on a lot of costs for the veteran and staying in hotels and stuff like that. If you stayed local, you wouldn't have those costs. It's just common sense,” said Tamara.
The Nelsons believe this is a step in the right direction to fix a broken system.
“We were super excited it got passed. It covers a lot of other areas for veterans, the distance and time. But what he implemented for us and other veterans was the transplant program,” said Charles.
“None of this would have happened at all if it wasn't for Fox 7 News and Rebecca,” said Tamara.