New deadline approaching for man with dying hypertension implant - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

New deadline approaching for man with dying hypertension implant

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Tommy Taylor, the Gilbert man who has been fighting for his life, is approaching a new deadline.

"I consider myself a very blessed man. The only thing ... I'm just facing death in the face. In two and half, three weeks, I might not be here," said Taylor.

Taylor has uncontrollable high blood pressure. During a clinic trial several years ago, a device was implanted in his chest to help regulate his hypertension. It’s been working. But the trial ended this Spring and the device did not get FDA approval. Taylor says the device is the only thing keeping him alive. 

The company, CVRx, told Taylor he could get the device replaced, but at his expense. The initial cost was more than $400,000. Since extensive news coverage of Taylor’s trials and legal battles, the company has now reduced that cost to just over $100,000. That will cover the cost of the device and the surgery, but it all must be paid in full, in advance, all by Taylor.

"Even though I have the option to have it replaced, I don't know that I can have it replaced because if I don't come up with the money, they won't replace it," Taylor said.

Taylor has Medicare and representatives have told him since the device is not officially FDA approved, his insurance will not cover the cost of the procedure or device. The FDA did grant a "humanitarian exemption" which essentially allows Taylor to continue using the device, but it is no longer backed by the clinical trial and still considered experimental.

Mobile users, tap here to see photos of Taylor's life.

The surgery to replace the device is set to happen in North Carolina in mid-August but it is all dependent on if Taylor can afford it. Through generous donations by his church family, friends and on GoFundMe.com, Taylor has raised about $20,000.

"I've been disabled now for seven years so I've had to go through all my life savings, what little I had, to just maintain, pay my bills like anyone else so, no, I don't have anything," said Taylor.

The device has a shelf life of about a year. So, it needs to be replaced every 12 to 14 months, at his expense. Taylor says his current device does not have much longer, doctors give it three to four weeks. If it is not replaced soon, Taylor says his life could end once the device dies.

While a new device would give him only a year, it's time he desperately wants and needs to spend with his family.

"We know God has an ultimate plan for him because God could have taken him a long time ago but he didn't," said Taylor's daughter Melissa Littlefield. Taylor has three daughters and several grandchildren.

"Sometimes we say our family motto is, 'if it wasn't for bad luck we wouldn't have any luck' so sometimes we do sit back and say, 'God, why?'" said Littlefield. But his wife and three daughters have been clinging to their faith during this ordeal.

"If God chooses to take him home, we know it won't be for long, we'll see him again soon," Littlefield said. "We're just taking it every step and moment at a time."

The family is extremely grateful for all the support from their church family, friends and strangers.

"Thank you for all the prayers and donations. it really means a lot to us. They've all be heard. It's been amazing the support my dad has received," said Littlefield.

Taylor is a man of faith. He believes God is in control of his life and will make a way. His family and his friends have closely watched the toll this ordeal is taking on Taylor emotionally and physically. They continue to solicit prayers.

"I'm a blessed man. I've lived a wonderful life," said Taylor. "If my eyes close in death right now I'm okay with it but I covet people's prayers for me and my family."

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