What Giving Looks Like: A New Insulin Pump

insulin pump
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I have participated in many projects in my life, but more often than not, I have never actually accomplished any goal or had the fortune to see any project through to its desired end. I have now had the honor of being a part of something very, very special – something that I was able to see through to the end.

In September, when Carol Ann and Laura Stutte’s home burned down in an apparent homophobic arson attack, few, if any, knew of their daughter, Kimberly who was living in the basement apartment.

When a lawsuit was filed in Monroe County by the Stuttes against the alleged arsonist neighbor, Janice Millsaps, the suit contained a list of several complaints against Millsaps including that she had stolen Kimberly’s insulin pump value at almost $7000.

After starting an online petition and writing about the Stutte’s on my blog, I was contacted by several people wanting to know if they could donate money specifically for an insulin pump. An online donation effort was started through the East Tennessee Equality Council, organizers of Knoxville PrideFest. Driven by Facebook, various blogs, Change.org, and GetEqual, money started trickling in. However, it didn’t seem like we would ever reach our goal of $7000.

Just when it seemed hopeless, we were contacted by a participant in the online petition, Bonnie Half-Elven, http://bonnie-halfelvn.livejournal.com/. She had recently received a new insulin pump and her old one was still working fine. She wanted to know if she could donate her old pump to Kimberly.

I called Kevin Bell of Medtronic, the manufacturers of the insulin pump used by Bonnie and Kimberly and asked him about their transfer program.

“We’ve had a program in place for some time. A person can transfer ownership of their pump to another person. For a fee of $495 we will accept the old pump and return a newly refurbished pump with a six month warranty. If it is being transferred to an immediate family member, we waive the fee.”

He was surprised, however, when I told him it took me two days to figure out how to orchestrate a transfer, because there was almost no information online. He performed a quick search of their own website as well as Google and confirmed that not only does Medtronic not advertise this program, but apparently none of the other insulin pump manufacturers do either. He promised to bring it up with his boss because he thought it is important information to get out there. Medtronic should be proud of Kevin. In him, they have a very caring and helpful employee.

For those that want to donate your pump to another person, first you have to be in communication with that person. Call your insulin pump manufacture and let them know your intentions by contacting customer service. You will need to transfer your registration/ownership to the other person and then ship your old insulin pump to them. The other person, the one receiving the insulin pump, will contact the same manufacturer and pay a the transfer fee and send in their prescription. Once the transfer and prescription are received, a newly remanufactured pump will be sent to the new owner along with an empty box for them to return the old one.

As for Kimberly, your donations raised approximately $3200. After the transfer fee, enough money will be left over to purchase additional insulin supplies, which can average about $400 per month. Kimberly is very happy with the new-to-her pump. It is a similar model as her old one – plus, she got to pick the color.

Kimberly wanted to share this with everyone:

“Thank you is not a good enough word to describe the emotion I feel when another human being that does not know me has taken the time to make my life better, and that is such a blessing. The fact that many people took time not only to donate funds for my family, but for me to help me and my health makes me realize that there are many people in this world that have earned my admiration and gratitude through human kindness. I am so grateful to everyone, our friends and new family, and those of you we still don’t know.”

Please know, that when you can help, anything you give or do, no matter how small will make a difference to someone, somewhere. No effort of kindness is every wasted, and who knows, you may save another person’s life. I also want to give a special thanks to Heather Cronk, of Get Equal, Michael Jones, of change.org, and Chloe Morrision, formerly of the Maryville Daily Times for their special effort in helping this happen.