BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Mountain Brook family is paying it forward to help other families with special needs children. CBS 42 first met the Hagan family after a medical mistake that forever changed the life of their newborn baby girl named Libby.
She was given an adult dose of insulin shortly after she was born which caused a catastrophic injury to her brain. It took more than two years for the family to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit filed in 2016. Four years later Lane and Kathryn Hagan are trying to help other families care for children with special needs through a non-profit organization they founded called “Libby’s Friends.”
“I just think back to those first few years before we had the settlement and I personally would go to work and work countless hours a week and would just be thinking there are still these bills that are there and how are we ever going to get caught up? Those were really tough years for us, not just with Libby, but the extra burden that was there,” Lane Hagan said.
That extra burden was the cost associated with getting Libby things she needed for daily living.
“I think before we settled the case, probably all of the equipment we knew she was going to need, for instance, the example I always use is her wheelchair,” Kathryn Hagan said, “It is like a $15,000-$16,000 piece of equipment and we can’t go anywhere without it. She has to have it.”
Even with insurance, the family was still responsible for two thousand dollars out of pocket cost. She said, “so, we thought that there were plenty of other people in her situation who have insurance, but still making those co-pays is a huge burden.”
That is why Lane and Kathryn Hagan said they created Libby’s Friends to “try to ease that burden for those other families that are out there who need it.”
Gracie Gomez has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. Although she receives care locally in Birmingham, Gracie had never been seen by Doctors at the Williams Syndrome Specialty Clinic in Columbus, Ohio. Her mom says without the assistance they received from Libby’s Friends, they would not have been able to make the trip.
Leticia Sartain has twin sons, Jack and Luke, who are autistic. She says both her sons have benefited from A.B.A. Therapy. Jack’s autism is severe.
“To get maximum results, Jack is attending four days a week and our cost out of pocket just for copay is $700 a month,” Sartain said. Because their co-pay is $35 per visit. She continued, “my husband’s income just falls at the edge, where you can not get a lot of government services. So, you really are on the gap of insurance and lucky for us to come across Libby’s Friends because they are the ones bridging that distance for us.”
That is what the Hagan’s wanted to do with this organization named for their oldest daughter who is now a big sister to Drew and Grace.
“Helping others has always been on our heart, more so in the last 5 to 6 years, but when I stopped working in February of 2018 it really gave me time to step back and see how we could help.” Lane Hagan said. “This year Libby’s Friends came in my mind and started really getting the wheels going. COVID-19 backed us up a little bit, but we’re getting the wheels going.”
The group posts about some of the families. They are helping on the Libby’s Friends Facebook page. It’s where you can go to learn more about the organization and make donations to help make a difference. “It takes a whole village, it’s not just the family. With a special-needs child, it takes more people to help and to give you everything you need to make your life as joyous as possible. Our goal is to help other families financially, but we also want to be as full service as possible.”