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Heart patient helped by senators dies

Aug. 15, 2012 at 3:25 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Jim Kuhn, a Florida heart patient who involved three U.S. senators in helping him get a heart pump, has died, his brother announced Wednesday.

Kuhn, 53, a Boynton Beach truck driver, struggled with congestive heart failure, and his cardiologist, Dr. Steven Borzak, sought the help of four local hospitals to install a Left Ventricular Assist Device, a $90,000 heart pump made famous by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who received one for temporary use before his heart transplant, The Miami Herald said Wednesday.

Kuhn had fallen into a rare bureaucratic situation, the Kuhn family said, running out of paid hospital days and unable to receive additional federal insurance until he had been out of the hospital for at least 60 days.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and his colleagues Sens. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, pursued the matter vigorously, but Kuhn's health was in decline, the newspaper said.

"He was caught in an inflexible, bureaucratic system that didn't take into account that he's a patient, not merely a number," Rubio said in a statement last month.

Kuhn died Tuesday evening, his brother said.

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