Health insurance canceled

man faces costly surgeries

November 15, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Chris and Stacey Harbaugh were at a car show at Valley Mall last Father's Day, showing the fluorescent green 1974 Plymouth Road Runner Chris Harbaugh restored.

He was having bad stomach pains and went to the emergency room, where tests were performed. His problem was thought to be viral and he was sent home. The next day he got a call telling him that a scan had revealed a large mass in his chest, and he was advised to see his family doctor.

Chris Harbaugh's life changed.

A birth defect - coarctation of the aorta - was discovered. It's a narrowing - a pinching off - of the aorta, the artery that takes blood from the heart to the body's main arteries, said Dr. Harry Lever, Chris Harbaugh's cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.


That's where Chris Harbaugh was sent for the surgery he needed, surgery that was beyond local specialists and even a Baltimore hospital. In mid-August, Chris Harbaugh had surgery to replace a heart valve and repair an aneurysm. He spent 12 days in the Ohio hospital - three of them in intensive care.

Chris Harbaugh, 35, a welder, has been working all of his adult life. He can't work now, and he recently learned that the health insurance he thought would cover his care had been canceled. Bills from his first surgery exceed $174,000. He faces another open-heart operation early in 2005.

Chris and Stacey Harbaugh have been involved in car shows that benefit Dream Come True, a local nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. They've also organized car shows that raised funds for the North Hagerstown High School football team, the team on which Stacey Harbaugh's son played and with which he's still involved. Chris Harbaugh is participating in some medical research while under Cleveland Clinic care. It won't help him, but he hopes it will help somebody else.

Now the Harbaughs need help.

A fund has been set up, and donations can be made to the Chris Harbaugh Heart Fund at any Bulldog Federal Credit Union Branch.

A benefit dinner dance will be held Saturday, Nov. 20, at the United Auto Workers hall in Hagerstown.

If you go

Chris Harbaugh dinner and dance benefit

6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20; doors open at 5 p.m.

United Auto Workers hall

18131 Maugans Ave.


Dinner catered by Mountain Gate Family Restaurant

Karaoke/DJ Ken & Kristi from 6 to 9 p.m.; and Jester and Charged Particles, a jam band, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.; raffles. $20 donation, no refunds. Tickets are available at The Guitar Room, 315 N. Cleveland Ave., Hagerstown.

For ticket information, call 301-797-2464. For information about the Harbaughs, call 301-797-5534.

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