KILLEEN, Texas — Update: The family's GoFundMe campaign exceeded its $7,000 goal Saturday evening.
After a Killeen family was told their insurance company would not cover a surgery that would help fight a rare eye condition, their 18-year-old daughter could go blind.
Madison Barnett has been battling keratoconus for six years, a third of her young life.
Keratoconus is a progressive eye disease that thins the cornea, which is usually round and causes it to bulge into a cone-like shape.
The conical shape distorts vision, which affects Maddie's ability to go to school, work and carry out everyday tasks. She cannot drive a car like her twin sister, and she has to use an aid at school to help her see, read and write.
Doctors told her that without proper surgery, her eyesight will worsen until she's eventually blind. Her condition has already progressed so much, she's worried she won't be able to see as she crosses the stage at her high school graduation.
"I will see double vision or colors that aren't there," Maddie said. "If I don't get it then I'm going to be blind for the rest of my life, and it will be really hard."
Her parents' insurance company said the procedure to save her eyesight is "not medically necessary."
Maddie's mother, Phyllis Bailey, said she wants the insurance company to understand what's at stake.
"I want these insurance companies to realize they're playing with people's lives," Maddie's mother said. "It's not just for a paycheck. It's my daughter's life in their hands, and they're refusing to do something about it."
Money is tight for Maddie's parents, who have three other daughters. So now, the family is hoping the insurance company will reverse its decision or the community will find it in their hearts to help raise the $5,000 needed to fund the surgery.
"I can't fix her," Bailey said. "As a mom, you want to be able to fix all your kids' problems. When you have something that's broken and you can't fix it, as a mom, it breaks your heart."
The family set up a GoFundMe campaign asking for $7,000 to cover Maddie's medical bills. By Saturday night, the goal was surpassed by $145.
Those looking to help fund Maddie's procedure can donate to the family's GoFundMe campaign or mail their donation to Texell Credit Union under Phyllis Bailey C/O Maddie's eyes, account number 141282-07.
Anyone wanting to donate another way can send an email to email@example.com or call 254-251-9408 to get in contact with the family.
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