Monday, December 24, 2007

Family accuses insurance company of causing teen's death

NBC News Transcripts
December 22, 2007 Saturday
SHOW: Saturday Today 7:00 AM EST NBC



AMY ROBACH, co-host:

And now to a family mourning the loss of their teenage daughter and accusing her insurance company of causing her death. NBC's Peter Alexander has more.


Just hours after Nataline Sarkisyan's death, her family spoke out, heartbroken and angry.

Mr. KRIKOR SARKISYAN (Nataline's Father): These Cigna people, they cannot make people's decision if they going to live or die.

ALEXANDER: For three weeks, 17-year-old Nataline, a leukemia patient, was hospitalized and in a coma. Her health insurance company, Cigna, refused to pay for the liver transplant she desperately needed, claiming it wasn't covered and experimental. On Thursday, dozens of protesters, including nurses and friends, rallied outside the company's offices, convincing Cigna to reverse course. Nataline's mom broke the news.

Nataline's Mother: Cigna just approved us.

ALEXANDER: But by then it was too late. Nataline died that night.

Mr. MARK GERAGOS (Family Attorney): Cigna Health Corporation Enhanced Coverage LinkingCigna Health Corporation -Search using: News, Most Recent 60 Days
Company Profile literally, maliciously, killed her.

ALEXANDER: Geragos called Cigna's actions callous and criminal, claiming the company took Nataline off its transplant list twice. He's now pushing prosecutors to consider manslaughter or murder charges.

Krikor Sarkisyan says his only daughter was his angel. After her death, the Armenian immigrant says he, his wife and their son slept in a single bed and wept.

Mr. SARKISYAN: I have a pain. I don't know when it's going to go away. It's never going to go away. They took my daughter.

ALEXANDER: Just before Thanksgiving, Nataline's brother donated bone marrow to help his sister.

Mr. BEDIG SARKISYAN (Nataline's Brother): I never lost hope for her. I swear to God I thought she was going to come home.

ALEXANDER: In a short statement, Cigna offered its deepest sympathies to Nataline's family.


"Our deepest sympathies are with Nataline's family. Their loss is immeasurable, and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We deeply hope that the outpouring of concern, care and love that are being expressed for Nataline's family help them at this time."

ALEXANDER: On her Web site, a friend wrote, "Rest in peace, sweetheart. If you only knew how many people fought for you." For TODAY, Peter Alexander, NBC News, Enhanced Coverage LinkingNBC News, -Search using: News, Most Recent 60 Days
Company Profile Los Angeles.

ROBACH: And now once again, here's Lester.

LESTER HOLT, co-host:

Thanks, Amy.

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