KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One family has a warning about over-the-counter painkillers after their loved one became unresponsive, facing liver failure.
They also struggled with getting her the option of a liver transplant due to insurance confusion.
A 29-year-old is in the hospital experiencing liver failure after regularly taking Tylenol for a couple of weeks. Now, she needs a liver transplant.
To make matters worse, she just got a new job in the Kansas City area and is still waiting on insurance to kick-in.
“Can we put a price on somebodies’ life?” Mom Jodi Bokhoven said.
Katlyn Bokhoven, 29, started experiencing leg pain in April. It got really bad a few weeks ago when she and her boyfriend were on vacation in Mexico.
Since then, she’s been masking the pain with Tylenol, taking two every four hours the last two and a half weeks.
“Her levels were over the top and in turn that destroyed her liver,” Bokhoven said.
Dr. Jameson Forster said the pain killer alone cannot cause the problem; things like malnutrition or drinking alcohol make it more dangerous.
Bokhoven said Katlyn had no more than two drinks in Cabo because she was in so much pain.
Now, their daughter is unresponsive and her liver’s failing.
“I think that you can take pain medications for legit pains,” the St. Luke’s Hospital transplant surgeon said. “When it becomes too long, then you should stop and say, ‘Maybe I should see somebody and figure out why it’s hurting so much.'”
Katlyn was trying to wait out the pain until insurance with her new job kicks in, in July.
“We point-blank asked, ‘So you’re saying if we don’t have insurance, she can’t get a transplant?’ And they said, ‘Yes.'”
CEO Jani Johnson said St. Luke’s leans on its team of transplant investigators, whose job is to make sure the organ goes into good hands.
Upkeep and medication can be expensive after a transplant.
“I think, the fact that she was employed and that she was near having the ability to have coverage…that was a factor we would definitely have taken into consideration,” Johnson said. “We just have to make ensure that we place these precious organs in patients that have the ability to take care of themselves for the rest of their lives and that organ for the rest of their lives.”
The family and team eventually found that Bokhoven could extend her health benefits with the previous employer because of rule changes during the pandemic.
“So now my daughter has insurance; my daughter has insurance,” Bokhoven said. “That doesn’t cover the people that still might be facing this crisis.”
Now, they need her to stabilize, so she can get on the liver transplant list.
“I’m hoping that she will be able to get her transplant, just lead her full life, have a couple babies and make a difference in this community as an occupational therapist,” Bokhoven said.
There’s a fundraiser set up for Katlyn, but the family mainly asks people to join their army of prayer warriors in Katlyn’s fight of her life.