Croatian mom now says CHOP flap is overblown

Posted: February 08, 2013

The perception that Children's Hospital of Philadelphia jacked up the price of treating a Croatian child is "a big misunderstanding," the child's mother said on the hospital's Facebook page, pleading with Croatian supporters "not to write any more bad comment on the hospital pages."

Dana Atanasovka Situm, who is taking her 5-year-old daughter Nora Situm to Children's for a last-ditch experimental therapy for leukemia, apologized for the misunderstanding and blamed the hurry and confusion of the past few days.

Nora and her parents were scheduled to fly to Philadelphia today, bringing with them funding raised by fellow Croatians for Nora's treatment.

"I have to point out that during this large-scale humanitarian action, which lasted only for a few days, many e-mail addresses have been involved so that we didn't even know whom the hospital sent a mail with the total amount needed for our Nora's medical treatment," Atanasovka Situm wrote.

"Therefore, I apologize that due to all this hurry, an omission occurred related to an unread mail concerning additional funds. Therefore, I would like to ask all of you, for the sake of my child's well-being, not to write any more bad comments on the hospital pages. I am asking you this because I would not like the blame to be put on people who only want to help my child."

Although she did not cite any amounts, on Wednesday she said the hospital's original bill was for $575,000, and that $262,000 was added to cover five years of post-treatment care.

Children's hospital said in a statement that it does not charge for follow-up care at the time of initial treatment; it advises families about potential follow-up costs "so they understand the financial issues they may be facing."

The experimental treatment is a gene therapy developed by University of Pennsylvania researchers. Although still very early in clinical use, the therapy has been remarkably effective against certain forms of leukemia, including the one that Nora has been battling

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