Family faces foreclosure of home after husband suffers an aneurysm

By Lynn R. Parks

It won't be a very happy Christmas in the Lane household in Seaford this year. Donald Lane, 63, is still dealing with the ramifications of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm, which he suffered on May 23. He is unable to work and he and his wife, Veronica, are facing foreclosure on their home on alternate U.S. 13 south of Blades.

"We won't be celebrating Christmas this year," Veronica said. "We aren't putting up decorations or getting each other gifts." In fact, she has started taking family photographs off the wall in case an order comes for them to vacate their home.

"I am so worried," Veronica said, crying. "I don't know what we're going to do." The couple's only income is Donald's Social Security retirement check, a little more than $800, and help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Their mortgage payment alone is nearly $1,500 a month.

"We haven't made a payment for four months," Veronica said. A recent letter from the mortgage company, Seterus Inc., said that it would start foreclosure proceeding if a payment wasn't received by Dec. 22.

The couple's troubles started in early May, when Veronica had to spend a week in Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, for treatment of pain caused by erosion of the linings of her stomach and esophagus. Because the couple had no health insurance, staff with the hospital helped the Lanes file an application for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for low-income people.

Not much longer after that, Donald started having stomach pains. By May 22, they were so bad that he came home from his job driving a delivery van for Consolidated Delivery Service, Jessup, Md.

He had a regular delivery route on the Delmarva Peninsula but stopped midway and returned his loaded van to Jessup. Co-workers there wanted to call an ambulance for him, but he insisted on driving home. "He was in so much pain that he had to stop and rest for about an hour," Veronica said.

After he got home, Veronica drove him to Nanticoke. There, a CAT scan showed the six-centimeter aneurysm in his stomach. He was taken to Christiana Hospital near Newark by helicopter. "He had to be kept sedated because his blood pressure was so high and they were afraid that the aneurysm would burst," Veronica said.

The next morning, Donald was taken to the operating room for surgery to patch the aneurysm. But before doctors could do that, the aneurysm burst, sending four pints of blood into his abdominal cavity. Donald had to be resuscitated on the operating table.

The graft to patch the aneurysm, which doctors put in place using an endovascular procedure through which a catheter was inserted in the groin and threaded through arteries, was successful. Donald spent three days in the intensive care unit, then was transferred to a regular room.

His problems weren't over, though. On June 23, a month after the aneurysm graft placement, Donald suffered a perforated colon. Doctors said that because of the aneurysm, a blood vessel leading to the colon had become detached and the colon had suffered from lack of oxygen. Doctors performed abdominal surgery to remove three feet of Donald's colon. He now has a colostomy bag.

Following that surgery, there was another stay in the ICU, this time for eight days.

On July 13, a blood clot lodged in Donald's lung. Doctors put filters in his groin to catch any additional clots and prevent them from traveling to his heart and lungs. Following this procedure, he spent three days in the hospital's transitional care unit.

Finally, Donald returned to his home in Seaford on Aug. 5. Four days later, he was back in Christiana for treatment of severe abdominal pain, which doctors said was an aftereffect of the abdominal surgery. And on Sept. 17, Veronica took him to his cardiologist because he was dizzy. Doctors determined that he had had a stroke; as a result of that, he has lost 40 percent of the vision in his right eye.

In addition to all of this, Donald has been treated twice for infections. And his overall physical condition has deteriorated to the point that he walks with a walker.

Veronica said that there are small glimmers of hope. The graft on Donald's abdominal aneurysm is holding well, doctors say. Another surgery, this time to remove the colostomy bag, may eventually be possible. And while Donald is still in pain, his condition is slowly improving. While it may take six months to a year, doctors predict that he will be able to resume work.

Their biggest concern now is their financial condition, Veronica said. While she is too young for Social Security retirement benefits, she has applied for disability benefits. That decision is still pending.

She has also talked with a bankruptcy lawyer. But she said that the cost of filing for bankruptcy is more than they can afford.

"I am so afraid of losing our house," she said. "We are in such a bind. I just don't know what to do."

Donald and Veronica are happy to accept any help that members of the community are willing to give.

"Our situation is just real hard," Veronica said. "If someone wants to, they can help in every way that they can."

For your information Assistance for Donald and Veronica Lane can be sent to their home, 26869 Seaford Rd., Seaford DE 19973.

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