Laura's rare condition, and how she was treated like one in a million

Longer, healthier, happier lives
01 October 2016
Laura's story
In the back row are the Bupa team, left to right: Daryll Clarke (Service Team Manager), Dr Tim Woodman (Medical Director, UK Customer), Ann Carter (Member Service Adviser), Stephen Pinkney (UK Customer Service Manager, Staines), Edward Clarke (Member Service Adviser), Emma Mckenna (Member Service Adviser) and Steph Toomey (Service Team Manager). In the front row are Laura with her family (Laura is second from right).

On Thursday, 22 October 2016, our team in Staines, UK, hosted a special visitor for a special meeting.

‘I was first diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome in 2014. It’s genetic and affects everything’. When 23-year-old Laura, a UK health insurance customer, was first diagnosed, neither she nor Bupa knew what lay ahead. But after four major neurosurgeries, countless trips to the USA and ongoing support from our team, Laura’s life has been saved.

Hear how Bupa played a part

‘I knew, from the first call, that Laura’s case was going to be big and unusual, and involve overseas treatment’, says Edward Clarke, one of our member service advisors. 

He was right. After talking to the family about Laura’s condition, it was clear that there wasn’t a consultant or surgeon in the UK or Europe who could treat a case as complex as Laura’s. 

To get the expertise Laura so desperately needed, the only option was treatment in the USA – something that our insurance policies can cover in exceptional circumstances, but which needs approval from medical directors.

‘If a Bupa customer has a condition covered by their insurance, we will strive to get them the best treatment no matter how uncommon the problem’, says Dr Tim Woodman, Medical Director, UK Customer. 

‘Sometimes this means we can’t find the right treatment in the UK, so we look abroad’.

In pursuit of treatment Laura and her family travelled thousands of miles to the USA for a series of complex and risky operations; all the while the cost of treatment was spiralling. 

Thankfully, our Healthcare Payments team was on hand to make sure the money we owed was paid promptly. In a rare opportunity for a team which isn’t customer-facing, Darryl from the team met Laura during her visit, and said, ‘It was a pleasure to meet the family and put a face to a claim which I have worked on.’ 

During her time in Staines Laura met many of the people who’d been instrumental in helping her get the treatment she needed, and took time to share some of the highs and lows of the past year.

Reflecting on it all and her experience of Bupa, Laura said, ‘We’re so grateful for all the help - it’s been an eight-month journey but the reception from Bupa has always been very warm and welcoming and so well appreciated.’

Longer, healthier, happier lives
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