A life-saving benefit.

By: Jessica Bonardi

How Verizon benefits covered the costs of a spinal surgery for V Teamer Drew Darling’s daughter.

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On today’s episode of Up To Speed, we meet V Teamer Drew Darling of Kansas City, Missouri, and his 13-year-old daughter Reese. Drew is a director of consumer sales and has spent the last 20 years working at Verizon. The Darling family recently faced an unexpected medical challenge after Reese, who had the rarest form of scoliosis, was forced to undergo a major spinal surgery.

A swimmer, tennis player and all-around thriving child, Reese lived a normal and happy childhood–-until last summer, when the Darling family’s world was turned upside down. A doctor’s appointment revealed Reese had significant organ impediments, and her back had exploded into different curves, which had the potential to lead to paralysis down the line. The solution: a nine-hour surgery that involved cutting from the base of her skull to three quarters of the way down her back.

Holding a 3D-printed model of her spine, Drew pointed out the areas where Reese was affected by scoliosis.

Reese recalls being “nervous” and “calling everyone I could think of.” The first person she reached out to: her dad.

Not even 12 years old and recovering from a major surgery, Reese was forced to learn how to use her new body, reshaped lungs and even how to breathe again. Today, Reese is back to playing tennis, riding scooters and living life to the fullest, as if nothing ever happened.

Drew credits the Verizon Family Support Group and benefits with allowing him and his family to focus on Reese and the challenges she faced. Sharing a screenshot of his medical bill, Drew revealed the grand total of the surgery, pre-insurance coverage: a costly $349,000. With Verizon’s benefits, the Darling family paid $1,400 out of pocket.

Drew emphasizes that if he were “not working at Verizon and not having the phenomenal benefits that we have when it comes to health insurance, I don’t even want to know what that would have looked like” when it comes to the total bill without Verizon’s robust health insurance.

Drew expressed his gratitude to his team for stepping up and ensuring he didn’t miss a beat upon his return to work and for looking after him and his family. Reese echoed that statement, saying “it felt really nice” to think that people who she had never met were “thinking of me and sending things I could do while I was recovering.”

In a classic “dad move,” Drew signed off with the joke “Reese, I’ve got your back.”

For additional information on health benefits and resources, ,please visit the Health & Benefits page on VZWeb.

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