TUCSON- A Tucson man and former Marine says his life is in limbo, caught between the need for life-saving surgery and a Medicare Advantage plan that will not cover the procedure. Robert Zurheide went on disability after he was injured in 2002 while working as a corrections officer in Florence. He has been battling chronic pancreatitis for nearly three years and says doctors at UAMC recommended a pancreas transplant as soon as possible. That was more than eight months ago.
“I love my country to the core, it’s in the core of me,” said Zurheide.
Military service is more than a passion for the Zurheide family, it is a way of life. Robert’s son Graham is a 1st Lieutenant in the Marines and his younger son has plans to join. However it is a tradition that claimed the life of Zurheide’s oldest son, 20-year-old Robert Zurheide Jr., who was killed while serving in Iraq in 2004.
“He came over, he gave me that big hug and he went back around to the car, got in and they drove off, and I never saw him again,” Zurheide said.
Nearly ten years after his son’s death, Zurheide says he is now fighting for his own life. He spends hours, even days in the hospital as his pancreas continues to fail.
“Worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, and it could kill me,” he said.
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Former Marine now battling Medicare for life-saving surgery