OXFORD, Mich. (WXYZ) - A 70-year-old Oxford man was at his wits' end when doctors told him his implanted heart defibrillator needed to be replaced.
He knew he couldn't afford a new one.
It was a "Call For Action" case that was literally a matter of life and death.
Douglas Starkey relies on a compact-sized device surgically implanted six years ago to keep him alive.
"It gives you a regular heart beat, but if you jump into a heart attack, it gives you that shock," Starkey explained.
But he learned last summer that his implanted cardioverter defibrillator needed to be replaced.
"I knew it was wearing down, and I was running out of time," he said.
His dilemma was he didn't have the money to get the surgery.
"I was on Medicare, and my Medicare would pay 80-20 percent. My 20-percent would be thousands of dollars, and I didn't have it. So in desperation I called Channel 7," he explained.
He dialed the "Call For Action" team.
The volunteers looked at his options and honed in on something he hadn't thought of.
His past in the military could be the answer.
Starkey was 19 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was a repairman for the Lacrosse guided missile program.
Because he was a veteran, the CFA team told him he could apply to be a candidate for the VA Medical System Program which would cover the surgery at little to no cost.
He enrolled, and a few months later he had the surgery for the new defibrillator at the VA hospital in Ann Arbor.
"I've had three shocks since I had it put in. One time I was on the phone, and it knocked the phone right out of my hands. But if… I was on my old battery, I'd be dead. So if I hadn't called channel 7, well, they saved my life," said Starkey.
The Call for Action team takes calls three days a week -- Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 11:30 until 1:30.
Just call (248) 827-3362 or go to our website... wxyz.com to submit a complaint form online.