Malnourished Veteran Pleads For Help From VA

By: Kayla VanoverEmail

Kayla Vanover

BOWLING GREEN, Ky (WBKO) An Army veteran, living right here in Bowling Green, is being denied full benefits while suffering from a surgery that he says was performed in error.

Frank Coursey has not eaten solid food in nearly three years. As if this is not enough strain on his body, he goes to bed each night worried about the future of his family, if something were to happen to him.

"This picture is on 07-07-2007. I was 286 pounds. This picture was Father’s Day of this year," said Frank Coursey, veteran.

Frank Coursey is currently 133 pounds, losing on average five pounds per week. His weight loss is the result of a gastric bypass surgery performed by a doctor in West Virginia, whom he was referred to by a his local VA physician.

Coursey says immediately following his surgery, he knew something did not feel right.

"Dr. Canterbury was there with about eight or nine students discussing the operations of the job and all that. I remember him looking at me and saying this is the worst case scenario of this surgery that we’ve had," said Frank Coursey, veteran.

Months into his recovery, Coursey claims his nausea never ceased. The same West Virginia VA hospital repeatedly told him he was experiencing typical side effects from the surgery. Coursey says he visited local emergency rooms weekly.

"I would go in a coma state and have to be hooked back up to IV’s. The doctor looked at me and said, why did you receive this surgery again? You didn’t need it," said Frank Coursey, veteran.

Coursey eventually had one VA doctor agree to put him back on the surgery table for an examination.

"His first words were, my God they didn’t tell me it was this bad," said Frank Coursey, veteran.

After the doctor ballooned his stomach, Coursey claims his vomiting continued. Even then, the doctor sent him on is way, claiming it was simply and irritation of his esophagus.

After exhausting all regional VA outlets suggested to him, Coursey finally found a Nashville doctor who agreed to see him.

"The doctor said, the man who performed your surgery did a rookie mistake. He put the staples to close. The staples aren’t wide enough, that is why you’re not holding solid food," said Frank Coursey, veteran.

The doctor assured Coursey he could perform a corrective surgery, but the business manager said it was not possible until they received their payment from the VA. Coursey already expected this to be paid, prior to the appointment.

Three months later, the doctor contacted Coursey to perform it, knowing the intentions of the VAs payment. However, Coursey experienced yet another issue.

"He had a hernia at the top of his esophagus. It already pulled half the sleeve up in it. from all the puking and coughing and everything," said Kathy Coursey, spouse.

Due to the hernia growing since the last appointment, the doctor could not perform the surgery without approval from the VA.

Since this appointment, Coursey has undergone surgery on his neck as well. Due to being malnurished, his head is too heavy for his brittle bones to hold it up.

Once he has fully recovered from his neck surgery, Coursey is scheduled to receive his corrective bariatric surgery.

Through all of this, Frank Coursey’s major concern is the well being of his family.

Coursey says the chances of him surviving his upcoming surgery are limited and he still is not receiving full VA benefits to cover his medical bills.

He says if something does not change, his biggest fear is not living through the surgery. He fears his family becoming homeless, due to a current lien placed on his home by an unpaid medical bill.

Coursey has contacted local political offices, but is told it will be at least 30 days before his case is even reviewed.