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Boy, 2, Whose Insurer Denied Coverage Dies

September 27, 1997

CHINO HILLS — A 2 1/2-year-old child whose bid for a bone marrow transplant sparked a controversy over insurance coverage died Friday at his Chino Hills home.

Michael Kerr was diagnosed with cancer when he was just a few months old. The cancer spread to his bone marrow, requiring a bone marrow transplant at Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange to give him a new chance at life.

But the insurance company that covered Kerr and his family declined to pay for the operation because Kerr's treatments had exhausted the $1-million lifetime limit.

People from across the county who had heard about the family's plight sent donations to help cover the $300,000 bone marrow transplant.

Last January, the family's new insurer, Cigna HealthCare, paid for the transplant, which was performed in July 1996 using bone marrow from Kerr's 6-year-old sister, Tiffany.

Two months ago, a follow-up examination showed the cancer had returned, said Deborah Shaw, a hospital spokeswoman.

Dr. Mitchell Cairo, Michael's oncologist, described his former patient as courageous and good-humored, "one of those children who come into your life and leave an impact on it forever."

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, 18 Technology Drive, Suite 147, Irvine, CA 92681.

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