I have great news for all of the many readers of My Obesity Connection on HealthCentral who write us asking if there is a free gastric bypass surgery. Yes, Virginia, there is a free weight-loss surgery!
As I noted in my previous sharepost, "Free Gastric Bypass Surgery, Is It Real?" free weight-loss surgery is virtually unheard of. But there is a free weight-loss surgery grant that may be available to you, if you are lucky. The non-profit organization Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America Grant Program awards the "Alice Neff Grant" to a person or persons who need help getting weight-loss surgery, due to financial reasons.
Inaugural Grant Recipient
Connie Bailey of Texas was the very first recipient of the "Alice Neff Grant," which was awarded to her earlier this year. She underwent gastric bypass surgery on March 23rd, a surgery that she'd been struggling to get for a decade.
Connie's and her identical sister, Rosemary's, lives were both affected by morbid obesity. Rosemary was able to have the surgery back in 2004. While Connie, who suffered from type-2 Diabetes, arthritis, hypertension and several other health issues related to her morbid obesity, was denied surgery time and again because her policy exempted Weight Loss Surgery.
It is very eye-opening to read their side-by-side personal stories of how Rosemary thrives after the surgery while Connie struggles to survive. Rosemary, who went from 447 lbs to 149 lbs, is able to travel, exercise, work -- and inspire other people with her weight-loss surgery success story on her YouTube Channel "GastricRose". On the other hand Connie, at 350 lbs, needs surgery on both of her knees and has very limited mobility.
Applications for the 2011 Grants Available August 15th
The 2011 "Alice Neff Grant" for weight-loss surgery will be available on August 15th via the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America (WLSFA) web site. The WLSFA will post a link to the WLSFA Grant Referral Guidelines that you can share with your Bariatric surgeon. To be automatically notified when the WLSFA is accepting applications, you may either create a WLSFA Web Site Profile or complete the WLSFA's contact us form letting them know that you are interested in applying for a 2011 grant.
How to Apply for the Grant
Your surgeon will complete the referral form online and print a copy for you. You'll need to include the surgeon's referral in your grant application packet to the WLSFA, along with the following information:
- An essay of up to five type-written pages telling your story (the essay helps the selection committee determine who is most deserving)
- If Insured: Verification of insurance denial - including appeal
- Verification of personal loan denial from three different sources
- Verification of public assistance denial (Medicaid, Medicare, State Programs) if you qualify for these programs
- Contact information for two character references (Name, Phone, Email Address) who are not family members
You further agree to the following requirements:
- Raise 10% of the funds required for your grant (WLSFA will assist in the fundraiser)
- Be an Ambassador for the WLSFA (appear on TV, Radio, Print, and Online)
- Attend a support group provided/recommended by your surgeon for a period of one-year
The Selection Process
Your essay and surgeon's referral will be reviewed by the selection committee who will select the finalists. The board of directors of the WLSFA will choose the actual grant recipient(s) from the finalists for each grant cycle. The number of grants awarded is based on the funds raised during that grant cycle. There is no guarantee any grants will be awarded.
The WLSFA web site has several useful links to help you prepare your grant submission. You also can learn about Medicaid and Medicare coverage for weight-loss surgery in my sharepost, "Free Gastric Bypass Surgery, Is It real?"
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.