Steven Quigley never expected to be the victim of a tragic accident. But on one fateful night in 2011, the then 37-year-old New Jersey native was brutally attacked and knocked unconscious by unknown assailants after an outing with friends in Old City.
Coming to grips with the brutality of his mysterious and still unsolved attack was only half of the battle for Quigley. After learning that the attack had left him with a quad spinal injury and a prognosis of life in a wheelchair with a 10-percent chance of ever walking again, Quigley later became aware of the hefty medical expenses he would soon incur.
“I think the real realization came when I woke up in the trauma center, and it wasn’t until a priest came to my side and told me that I’d been in a serious accident that I really knew what was going on. I never thought about the costs of it. But the costs, outside of insurance, are astronomical,” Quigley said.
The estimated cost of care for the type of spinal injury Quigley sustained ranges anywhere from $500,000 to more than one million dollars, in the first year alone. As a result of his injuries, Quigley spent six months in a trauma intensive care unit and a rehabilitation hospital. Even when he was released to his home, he required full-time nurses and doctors to help him with nearly all of his basic, daily functions, which up until now, were covered by his health insurance and generous donations from family members.
Having exhausted all of his personal savings and family donations, and reaching the maximum limits with his health insurance, Quigley turned to what he called his last hope: medical crowdfunding.
“Honestly, if I hadn’t found crowdfunding, I would have knelt down and prayed, and hoped that there was another answer. I don’t know what else I could’ve done to raise this much money,” he said.
Last month, Quigley started the ‘Help Steven Walk Again’ fundraising campaign on Go Fund Me, a crowdfunding web site that allows people to raise money for various causes including accidents and illnesses. Quigley’s campaign has attracted 119 donors who, to date, have contributed $11,960 to his recovery costs.
The donations have helped pay for Quigley’s at-home therapists and other treatments necessary to his recovery, that he would have had no other means of paying.
When it comes to being unprepared for emergency medical costs, Quigley is not alone.
In a 2011 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, 50-percent of Americans said they would struggle to come up with as little as $2,000 in the event of a medical emergency. So, for people facing much higher emergency medical costs, crowdfunding could be a vital resource for fundraising.
Marion Leary is the president and founder of local medical crowdfunding company Sink or Swim. She says crowdfunding for medical costs is becoming more and more popular among underinsured individuals facing unexpected medical costs.
“It’s a huge need in this country, because many people—even if they have insurance—they can’t afford what insurance doesn’t cover. The co-pays are too expensive, and they’re not able to work because of their injuries,” Leary said.
“So to have a lot of people give a little bit of money towards those costs really makes a huge difference in their lives in terms of being able to stay on the medications that they needs or get the equipment or treatments that they need.”
Quigley hopes to raise a total of $40,000 to cover the costs of his continued medical expenses which include exercise equipment, like a $16,000 simulation bike; and locomotor training sessions, which cost $400 per hour.
“I’m about 70-percent recovered and each month it just gets on step better,” he said. “People are giving and I’m very humbled by that. I’ve gotten donations from all over the world. I’ve been a giver my whole life, I’m just that type of person; but to see so many people give so much to me, it’s very touching. I don’t know where I would be without them.”