Army veteran dies while waiting on liver transplant, family remains frustrated by VA health care system
First Coast News
Author: Ken Amaro
April 20, 2020
On Saturday, Army Veteran Sunnie Smith died from complications related to her disease. She leaves behind a 10-year-old and many who loved her.
"She was my hero," said Betty Smith.
Sunnie Smith did two tours in Iraq, came home and fought the biggest fight of her life. We met the Smith family a year ago.
Sunnie Smith was in the heart of her fight with liver disease and with the Veterans Affairs healthcare system.
"She needed that liver and we kept waiting and we kept waiting to be put on that list," said Betty Smith.
Betty Smith became her daughter's biggest advocate and made appeals with the VA and with her U.S. congressmen to put her daughter on the organ transplant list.
"She needed a liver and she fought the disease with courage," she said.
The army veteran was in the final stages of liver failure. The family says during her second tour in Iraq she became ill, and shortly afterward, they discovered the source of her illness.
Smith said in 2018, the VA, which was her primary health care provider, told them her daughter would possibly be accepted by a center in Virginia for a liver transplant. The hold up was her MELD score.
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