An Iowa mother says her diabetic son passed away tragically after being unable to afford his life-saving medicine. Janelle Lutgen says her 32-year-old son, Jesse Lutgen, suffered from Type 1 diabetes. He’d been reportedly trying to ration his insulin to make it last longer, due to its expense. According to AOL, he’d lost his job and along with it, his medical insurance. Without insurance, Jesse was struggling to purchase the diabetic supplies he was supposed to be taking daily. He died in February of 2018 as a result of diabetic complications.
When his mother went to his home after his death, she was shocked when she couldn’t find any test strips or supplies in sight.
“I went into his home, and I found no Humalog or test strips, which is what he’s supposed to take each time with his meals,” Janelle said, adding that she “heard through the grapevine that he wasn’t able to afford his supplies because he had lost his job and didn’t have any insurance.”
— CNN International (@cnni) November 21, 2018
“I miss him every day. I think about him every day,” Janelle said of her son in an emotional interview. “Football season was hard because that was what he loved the most.” Perhaps her biggest heartache is that her son’s death could have been avoided. No one should have to do without the medication they need to survive. She hopes that sharing her son’s heartbreaking story will help raise awareness about the rising cost of diabetes medication. Diabetes affects more and more Americans every year and with so many people out of jobs, many of these conditions are going without being properly treated.
Unfortunately, Jesse was not the first to lose his life as a result of the increasing cost of diabetes medication. In 2017, 26-year-old Alec Smith of Minneapolis, Minnesota, died with very similar circumstances. He’d reached the age that he could no longer be included on his parent’s health insurance plan and struggled to afford insulin. Although Alec was working a full time job and making money any way he could, the position didn’t come with health insurance. When it came time to get a refill for his medication, the price was simply too high.
“He was trying to ration his diabetes medication because he couldn’t afford a $1,300 refill,” wrote Alec’s bereaved mother. “The price of insulin has gone up over 1,200 percent in 20 years,” she added. “It’s not affordable. You’re price-gouging people who need this one product to live, to survive.”