VA will now reconsider is six-year denial of a kidney transplant for a Native American Marines veteran who was stationed at Camp Lejeune.

Frank Sherman, an Ojibwe located in northern Minnesota, has endured a brutal fight against Minneapolis VA for approval of his kidney transplant. Until AJ Lagoe at Kare 11 News started reporting the issue, VA maintained its denial for six years.

Frank is suffering from end-stage renal disease and has been on dialysis since 2012. His VA records show the disease is linked to drinking contaminated water while stationed at Camp Lejeune. But VA has refused for years to provide the procedure Frank needs.

Why?

Great question.

Despite being called a good candidate for transplant, VA refused to put him on the transplant list. Records show that his current medical doctors believe he is a good candidate.

After some digging, Kare 11 learned a VA beancounter concluded the veteran may not be “mentally alert” enough to follow medical instructions to take care of himself after the transplant.

The solution?

Let Frank die from end stage renal failure. Make sense?

When Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked about Frank’s case in February, Minneapolis VA Director Patrick Kelly cited a finding by the Pittsburgh VA Transplant Center: “Due to his limited functional status and vascular dementia with significant neurocognitive deficits, he is not an acceptable candidate.”

In response, Frank’s doctors responded that VA is wrong.

“There is no valid reason for him not to be selected,” Dr. Mark Becker, Frank’s primary care physician at Cass Lake Hospital, wrote to the VA.

Frank’s private nephrologist, Dr. Jason Bydash, concurred. “I think that Frank would make a good transplant candidate,” he told KARE 11. When asked about VA’s conclusion concerning Frank’s mental status, Dr. Bydash stated, “Frank in my opinion does not have significant neurocognitive deficits.

His own primary care physician flatly rejected VA’s conclusion, “This is simply not true” regarding allegations of cognitive impairment.

Kare 11 Investigation

Here is an excerpt of what Kare 11 found, in italics:

Frank grew up on the reservation speaking Ojibwe and does not read well. So, records show he did poorly on a standard memory test use to determine whether he could care for himself after the transplant.

But records reviewed by KARE 11 raised serious questions about the accuracy and fairness of the VA’s interpretation of the results.

Frank says he was asked to recall lists of words and names. But he says the test included words he didn’t know. In fact, KARE 11 discovered one of the VA’s own examiners had noted in a report that Frank “appeared unfamiliar with a number of items.” Citing the word escalator as an example, the examiner reported Frank said, “We don’t have those on the reservation.”

“And they think because you don’t know a word that’s a memory. It’s not a memory, it’s a word you don’t know.” Frank said.

A note in Frank’s records stated, “Patient performance was scored on Caucasian norms due to lack of Native American norms available.”

Others notes by VA examiners stated, “cross-cultural factors … may have contributed to suppressed performance.” The examiner concluded, “Results of the current evaluation may therefore potentially underestimate his true level of cognitive functioning.”

Even so, the VA refused to put Frank on the transplant wait list.

“What does that say to you?” KARE 11 investigative reporter A.J. Lagoe asked Dr. Bydash.

“It says it’s a biased system,” Bydash responded. “Testing may pick up on certain defects erroneously – especially if it’s using language that they’re not familiar with.”

Take Away

Like other transplant cases, there is a trend with VA spinning its justifications depending on who is watching. Once a Senator gets involved with the backing of the press, VA will capitulate.

What do you think of this game? Is VA justified? Or, is it time transplants get taken out of VA’s lane and instead outsourced?

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I was told by my VS primary care shrink that I’m not getting the expected care receive because President Trump lies. I’m at the mercy of Atlanta who failed their inspection miserably. My shrink Dr. WYATT is at Blairsville, GA primary care some 80 plus miles from Atlanta. He is finally recommend me to go to a TBI clinic in Atlanta. My plan is to refuse any further sbc from him cause its became obvious that he does not approve of out President cause he lies. And he works for the same govt President Trump, runs??? Nor did he use the word president, he just said Trump. That is no respect for the office he was elected to. Besides the fact he prescribed pills that put me in the local emergency room. My # is 7069720128
    I also have legal issues with my benefits that all my primary doctor have no answers when I ask. Now I have a hearing on 30 Nov and can’t get VA assistance. Craig Womer

  2. Games? Usual circus maximus with clowns. Six damn years of torment and torture for this guy and what about the many other affected Marines, etc? Or with other health issues with base contaminants.

    No the VA again is not justified. There are those that would say, just “go die off.'” “Stop the whine.” Cheerleaders and antagonist just keep promoting certain VA behaviors and testing.

    Past time to get the VA out of that “lane.” Especially with their years running track records of ruination, cover-ups, disregard, to lacks of proper testing for countless people. Next up would be the common issues for some, besides the cheerleaders, that would have issues with steroids or anti-rejection meds? If they cause someone like this gentleman maybe to go into some emotional stress, depression, possible bad attitude. Will they “test” him if he reports not being himself, or (intentionally) creating stresses for him, and call in the “Disruptive Committee,” flag the file, claim he is “not being cooperative,” forced on destructive head meds, or possibly shot or harmed? A bunch are today for having mere health issues. Hard telling in the present culture. At least some news people out there are watching over this story and may create a stir.

  3. Outsourced absolutely Ben. Death panels and a handful of people making life and death decisions seems to be the here and now and the future. I pray Frank gets his transplant. Hope just doesn’t cut it anymore.

  4. Death Panels….but all for the Vets….happy Veteran’s Day….only if you’re a funny hatter with head completely up ass of VA…hard to hear real Vets in-need with heads so far up VA’s ass.

    SIX YEARS! Can’t convince any rational thinking Veteran that the VA wasn’t just waiting for Frank Sherman to just die while waiting…rat bastards! Someone shone an accountability flashlight to his denial and….”[…
    After some digging, Kare 11 learned a VA beancounter concluded the veteran may not be “mentally alert” enough to follow medical instructions to take care of himself after the transplant….]”-

    I conclude that no VA hack witch dr is mentally alert enough beyond ability to fog a mirror for a few hours a week, let alone perform a transplant…send Mr. Sherman to the MAYO CLINIC…was good enough for John McCain….

  5. To OLD ! Memory loss ! So to means veterans sufferimg from ptsd and or traumatic brain injury !

    And need a transplant ! Will be denied and given a Death sentence !

    Deny emergency room payments ! Deny transplant ! Denied over 450 thousand disability claims !

    300 thousand veterans died waiting for treatment that never came per news report’s.

    Veterans whom have been rated 100% perment and total being Forced to perform new comp and pension examination ! Unwarranted !

    Closed 271 veterans disability claims without permission from the veterans. That would have added 271 veterans to be added to the 300 thousand veterans died waiting for treatment that never came.

    Send these employees to jail !

  6. Quote from the article: “appeared unfamiliar with a number of items.” Citing the word escalator as an example, the examiner reported Frank said, “We don’t have those on the reservation.”

    Frank Sherman told the truth. Elevators are not usually installed on reservations where Native Americans live. Perhaps the ‘educated’ VA glorified paper pusher with a fancy title should try a little truth telling. Might be good for their soul.

    How is it that paper pushers with no formal medical training can ignore and overrule the findings of licensed physicians thereby dictating who receives needed procedures from the VA?

    A note in Frank’s records stated, “Patient performance was scored on Caucasian norms due to lack of Native American norms available.” An ‘Apples and Oranges’ comparison that would not stand up to scrutiny.

    Why do we not know this VA employees name? Whoops! I forgot. Legal protection under the law. Except of course, that apparently does not apply to Frank Sherman who actually served his country.

    Since when is not having good American English reading comprehension a significant neurocognitive deficit?
    If it is, there are a high percentage of college educated folks of all ethnicity in this nation with ‘significant neurocognitive deficit’. The VA paper pusher that denied Frank Sherman his sorely needed medical procedure stands high among them.

    America made promises to Frank Sherman. America needs to keep those promises.

  7. For years the VA has ignored veterans health issues or denied service connection since they claim medical research can’t prove it. The VA games the system by having their own research hacks write the reports.
    Independent medical research shows the VA is wrong, but they continuing denying health effects because their own research hacks claim otherwise, until the evidence is overwhelming. Or until the VA is forced to do right politically.

    The VA should not be the sole decider in transplants. Their history shows they don’t have any interest of the veteran in mind let alone the best interest. It all comes down to money, and what facility may have to pay for what procedure.

    There needs to be a completely independent review board that a veteran can appeal to for transplants. Academics in the medical field rather than overpaid bureaucrats or the NAS or IOM.

    The VA can’t be trusted in making any decision regarding a veterans best interest when that decision involves any cost.

    You can bet the VA will decide in favor of their bottom line and bonuses every time.

  8. “…..America made promises to Frank Sherman. America needs to keep those promises.”

    I guess that depends on your definition of “America”. America, as in citizens, are generally sympathetic but, they are also skillfully isolated from the realities that veterans face. America, as in government, breaks promises all the time and is not deserving of good and loyal citizens who sacrifice to serve.

    I’ve said it before and I”ll say it again. Vets need to forget appealing to DC. The appeal should be a tangential assault on the military by grass roots appeal to children and parents to not enlist in the military. Can’t have an army without soldiers. Alas – that will never happen. Veterans tend to cling to the concept duty, honor, country, brotherhood – those intangibles are all that is left after sacrifices unrecognized, services and support denied – promises not kept.

    • “America, as in government, breaks promises all the time and is not deserving of good and loyal citizens who sacrifice to serve.”

      We all know that, Windguy. And you are so correct. America has broken promises to all of us who have served with honor.

      That is the primary reason I do everything within my limited power to convince youngsters to avoid the military if at all possible. And why I will continue to do so.

      Was never a ‘what’s in it for me’ kind of guy until without due process or legal representation in 1993, the military put me out eighteen months before I could file my retirement papers. It was done in such a way that I have to repay the money to the government that I was given as Disability Separation Pay. Zero help from the VSO’s. Zero help from the VA. Zero help from the government, Period. I understand why Edward Snowden took the course of action he did.

      The American government does not merit the loyalty or service of people such as us.

      Disgruntled Veteran
      1973 – 1976 USMC
      1978 – 1993 USN
      Wounded Warrior

  9. The biggest problem within the VA is they like to play God. Since no real oversight, can’t get fired and having their buddies in upper management they get the feeling and arrogance they’re superior. They play Russian roulette with people’s lives. They think everything is a game and winning is when they ruin lives. When so many were caught having secret wait lists, people die and still practice this today? Untouchable the all feel and spend a good portion of the day communicating with peers and phony upper management, they figure out how to shield themselves way before anyone asks. Just like this crap done keeping on a machine so long. Why hate builds with veterans that is used against. Sickening

  10. I really wish I knew what to do, about my medical diagnosis & treatment at the American Lake VA & Seattle VA Hospitals ? I’d also like to know if the VA placed a FLAG on me ? As they have done to other Veterans, from which I’ve read from other Vets online, that when they place a FLAG on you, it inhibits quality care for the Veteran as a source of either “Retaliation or Punishment !!
    Look it up yourself ? I’ve complained numerous times to the Patient Advocate office at American Lake VA Hospital, only to be ignored (again) like other Vets there !!! And, if they do investigate the Compliant against a staff member ? Like I did a few years back, about a young female scheduler that made fun of my ptsd !! She, even brought her co-Workers into play ? I repeated myself to her, that I need to schedule an appt! She just laughed at me And taunted me, only to make my situation more pronounced & Difficult! The P.A. Investigated it, but, found their was no evidence of my complaint, so it was dropped ? I felt very bad for others, who she would inflict with her Sadistic behavior, and her co-workers as well ! A few years later? I had surgery on my right shoulder from a service connected injury, prior to the surgerical procedure, The Seattle VA hospital anesthesiologist inserted a nerve blocker into my upper spine, soon after, I told them I had difficulty breathing, but, the surgeon assured me that was natural ? In Post Op, I continued to experience difficulty breathing and, during my Discharge evaluation ? Later that evening, my breathing became severely labored, so much so, that the telehealth Nurse told me to go to the closest Hospital ER! I was extremely unstable, and in critical condition until GoodSam Hospital stabilized me ? My CT Scans were normal, blood oxygen level improved, yet I continued to experience labored breathing ? Then other symptoms progressed such as ; distended abdomen, upper and sometimes lower abdomen sharp pains, extreme Fatigue, dizziness & disorientation ! Then I started getting nasuous and dry heaving day after day ? My Primary Care Doctor told me I possibly had IBS ? The pulmonary dept. at Seattle VA. Told me it sounded as if I had a hiatal hernia? Then of course I had labs & another CT Scan for upper & Lower Torso. Pulmonary never addressed the results to me, so weeks later, waiting anxiously for someone ? Anyone ? To provide me with some sort of an explanation as to my condition ? I had to make an appt. with my Primary care Doctor again, just so I could get the results ? Now I’m dropping weight ( though I’m not complaining!!) but, I’ve lost my appetite, mouth gets extremely dry! I feel like my throat is closing half the time, while feeling like I’m sucking in dirty air ? I have had kidney & liver problems in my past with my previous Doctor, whom would call me ASAP, to inform me of my lab results etc…., he never procrastinated on anything!!! Unfortunately, he was too Good ? So, they transferred him to the surgical floor. (Go figure ?) my New Primary care Physician then proceeded to convince me that my operation may have triggered my ptsd ? Thus effecting me physically ? Yup!!! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing ? So, I continued to experience no change in my condition since May 16th 2018 to this date! If you were to ask me what I think ? I’d point to the only logical premise!, the VA is hiring incompetent hospital staff, or their being intentionally negligent ? Which after hearing other horror stories, from Vets across our Nations VA hospitals, I’d say there’s an active Veteran genocide occurring ? Think that sounds nutty? Then do the Math yourself and invest your time looking into it! Don’t even rely on VA info ? Collect the info. From the Horses mouth !, our Veterans!! I know not all VA’s are the same ? I don’t even bother with the inspector generals investigation any more,,, why, because it’s a joke!! Same as our politically assigned overseer’s : secretary, and so on ? There’s a battle for power going on with our VA health care initiatives, one side we have the Secretary of the VA , and, on the other side from what I read through an article published by the Disabled Veterans .org. There are powers to be, that are not even in the remotest affiliation , linked to our VA health care system, making decisions about our health care, and over riding the Secretary! How’s that ? I have no earthly idea ?..

  11. The only people who make bombs that should not be prosecuted are those who will place onE at each VA bureaucratic facility. I once applied for an advertised job of “adjudicater” with the VA. (They didn’t know specifically who I was, as I was just calling to inquire about the job). I asked the lady at the VA if having a law degree and experience as a Marine Officer would count.
    she said: NO, we are looking for someone who has worked for the VA before, as this job is very important to “guard” the “.GOVERNMENT’S MONEY” …….!!!!
    fOR THE MOST PART VA BUREAUCRATS ARE LESS THAN WORTHLESS. THEY HAVE SHIT FOR BRAINS AND A TERRIBLE MEANESS IN THEIR HEARTS
    There is absolutely no “improvement” in the treatment of veterans by those black souled vermin. Do away with the VA and let Veterans choose their own health care.
    The unwritten mission of the VA is to screw with every veteran until he/she breaks.
    And none of these idiots, black-hearted bureaucrats ever suffer for their mistreatment of veterans.
    Where’s the hit list, General? How many snipers do we have available, General?
    Isn’t the Military’s slogan: “AN EYE FOR AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH”?
    NO,…… IT IS: “A HEART FOR AN EYE, AND A LEG FOR A TOOTH”, (NO PLAYING AROUND WITH THESE FOOLS)

  12. He has limited neurocognitive deficits because he is in END-STAGE KIDNEY DISEASE! They are using his condition against him. Since the kidneys filter waste products in the blood, when they are not functioning properly cognitive function is adversely affected. He needs the transplant to improve, but they won’t approve the transplant because of his condition. Catch-22. Unbelievably poor leadership decision making. The real issue is cost under the guise of a seemingly disqualifying medical rationale. This story really, really upset me.

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