Former Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard has Crohn’s Disease. He’s raised money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America ($180,000 in one year), has visited children with the disease, and recently set up his ownfoundation to educate the public and assist fellow-sufferers.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation, now fifteen years old, distributes over $83 million each year to fund research on Parkinson’s Disease and increase public awareness.
Celebrities with serious diseases, simply by publicizing the fact, have saved lives by calling attention to the illness. There was a spike in testing for the BRACA 1 and 2 gene mutations associated with breast cancer after Angelina Jolie announced that she had the mutant gene and had undergone a double mastectomy.
In 1998, Hillary Clinton had a blood clot, a deep vein thrombosis, or venous thromboembolism (VTE). But the First Lady did not come forward with the information. Even staffers were told only that she had a sprained ankle. Hillary was eyeing Pat Moynihan’s Senate seat, and apparently felt that discussing the embolism would not help her campaign. In the fall of 2007, she changed her mind. Running for the nomination against Barack Obama and John Edwards, whose wife Elizabeth suffered from metastatic breast cancer, Hillary evidently decided that mentioning the health scare from nine years earlier might make her seem a little more sympathetic. So she confided the secret to a NY Daily Newsreporter.
But then she dropped the issue. Just as she had done nothing as First Lady or as a senator, she did nothing as Secretary of State and a member of the Obama Cabinet to increase public awareness of VTE.
The President shares Clinton’s lack of interest. As Beth Waldron, a VTE advocate and medical writer, notes:
President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget proposal included no funding at all to address VTE. By comparison, HIV/AIDS gets a $3.3 billion allocation. Breast cancer and cervical cancer (lumped together in a line item) are allocated $169 million. Both conditions are mentioned by name with dedicated funding line-items in the HHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget. Yet in the CDC budget detail, there is not a single mention of VTE, which kills more Americans annually than both AIDS and female cancers combined.
How many Americans? The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 60,000 to 100,000 people die each year from VTE. About 900,000 men and women of all ages are diagnosed with it annually. This compares to about 21,000 diagnosed with ovarian cancer, 231,000 with breast cancer, and also 21,000 with HIV infections. Deaths from each, in 2014, were 14,000, 41,000, and 13,000 (from all causes) respectively.
So the 21,000 Americans who contract HIV-related infections annually are allocated $3.3 billion, while the 900,000 who experience blot clots get nothing.
“Most VTE, their complications, and nearly all deaths are preventable,” writes Waldron, and takes Clinton to task for not becoming a public advocate for victims of blood clots.
Clinton could have played a key role in changing that. [the lack of funding] Clinton’s first clot occurred when she was First Lady. Her second episode occurred the year she transitioned from the US Senate to the State Department. Her third VTE episode happened while she was Secretary of State. All of Clinton’s clots occurred while she held positions of great public influence. If at any of those junctures, she had stepped up to share her clotting experience, perhaps even become a VTE advocate and encouraged Congress or the President to increase funding, millions of lives could have potentially been positively impacted or saved.
In 2008 the Surgeon General called VTE “‘a major health problem, exacting a significant human and economic toll on the Nation.’ The report said few problems are as serious as VTE, yet there was low public awareness and clinician adherence to effective prevention and treatment strategies.”
But Hillary was not interested in saving lives. She was interested in becoming President. For the Clintons, it’s always about power and money.
Like David Garrard and Michael J. Fox, the Clintons have a foundation—with some 2,000 employees. But the non-profit organization, according to The Federalist,
distributed less than 6% of the $91.2 million it spent in 2014 in charitable grants, $5.2 million. Of the money spent on its own programs, by far the largest amount, $23.3 million, went to the Clinton Global Initiative. The CGI “exists to organize and produce a lavish annual meeting headlined by former president Bill Clinton, and characterized by the New York Times as a ‘glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state, and celebrities.’” Number two was the Clinton Presidential Library ($12.3 million) and number three the Clinton Climate Initiative ($8.3 million).
VTE sufferers, unfortunately, are mostly ordinary Americans without clout or deep pockets.
Beth Waldron also criticizes Dr. Lisa Bardack for misleading the public about anticoagulants. As every physician knows, they do not dissolve clots.
For the town-hall debate on Sunday, October 9, half of the questions will come from citizens, via Facebook. These will be selected by Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper.
Readers should ask Hillary Clinton some version of the following:
“You have suffered from three blood clots, or venous thromboembolisms. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 900,000 Americans are diagnosed with blood clots each year, and they kill between 60-100,000 men and women annually. If you are elected President, will you fund research to help find a cure for this disease and to help prevent it through public education?”
Readers can cite the conclusion of an article on the NIH website:
“Learning and understanding more about the burden and causes of VTE, and raising awareness among the public and healthcare providers through a comprehensive public health approach, has enormous potential to prevent and reduce death and morbidity from deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism throughout the U.S.”