Real Life Client Story, Ripped From the Headlines, by Jamie K. Fleischner, President, Set for Life

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By Jamie Kantor Fleischner, CLU, ChFC, LUTCF
President, Set for Life Insurance, by KF Financial, Inc.

In August of 2008, I received a phone call from a client’s family member.  I thought she was calling to confirm we received that the premium check was received.  That was not why she was calling. My client, Dr. Jason, had just been involved in a terrible car accident. He was in intensive care with severe burns on his right side of his body. 

He was still unconscious when she called.  Fortunately, I was able to assure her that his disability policy was in force. I called the company and helped her with the necessary process.

His accident occurred on August 8, 2008. He started his new position as a pediatric orthopedic surgeon on August 1, 2008, the date his policy was placed in force.  His accident was so severe, it made the local news.  His rescuers even visited him later at the hospital as they had never seen such a severe accident. They couldn’t believe he survived.

This was not Jason’s first disability insurance policy. I initially met Jason when he was a medical resident with several years until his residency and fellowship completion.  We had discussed all of the hypothetical situations. What if he was injured and couldn’t practice orthopedic surgery? What if his health changed and he couldn’t purchase more benefit in the future?  Jason even set up a seminar to his fellow orthopedic surgery residents to discuss disability insurance since he felt so strongly about protecting his income.

Fortunately for Jason, he purchased a disability insurance policy with an own occupation definition.  This means that his policy would pay benefits if he couldn’t practice as an orthopedic surgeon, even if he could see patients in another capacity or retrain in a different specialty.  Immediately following the accident, his prognosis was unclear.

Furthermore, at the time Jason purchased his disability insurance policy, he purchased future increase options on his policy so he can now purchase more benefit as his income increases, even though he may never medically qualify for benefits without an exclusion.  His future increase options will not have any medical exclusions.

A year has now passed and Jason is back working as a surgeon.  In today’s local paper, this article was posted.  I feel grateful to have been able to help Jason and be part of his recovery. He is an inspiration to others.  I wish him all the best!

Year after crash, doctor operating again-Denver Post 08/09/2009

Two troopers saved Rhodes’ livelihood and life from a car fire.

By Chris Vanderveen
9News

Posted: 08/09/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT

Pediatric surgeon Jason Rhodes was rescued from his car in August 2008. About 20 percent of his body was burned. ( 9News )

AURORA – Jason Rhodes saw one bright flash in his rear-view mirror. Less than a second later, his sport utility vehicle became an accordion. The semi had done its worst.

But the fire was just getting started.

He tried to open the door. It wouldn’t cooperate. He tried to move, but there was nothing he could do. His body was stuck beneath the remnants of the dashboard of his SUV, near the intersection of E-470 and Interstate 70.

The newest member of the Children’s Hospital pediatric orthopedic team was trapped.

A year later, thinking back on the Aug. 8, 2008, crash, Rhodes remembered that he did the only thing he could think of: He screamed.

“I remember there being many words that probably shouldn’t be repeated,” he said.

A mile away, Colorado State Patrol Cpl. Tim McClinchy couldn’t hear the scream, but he could see the black smoke.

Something big was on fire, he thought. So he and Trooper Randy Orton raced toward it.

Once they got there, they both heard a man screaming for his life. Someone was alive inside the mass of crushed metal. They cut the seat belt. They pried at the door. Both troopers were doing whatever they could to get Rhodes out of the burning car.

“We tried everything in our power to get him out of that vehicle,” McClinchy said. Nothing was working.

That’s when McClinchy and Orton made a decision that may have saved Rhodes life.

They decided, “if he’s going to bear it, then we were going to bear it,” McClinchy recalled. “We were not going to leave him.”

One held Rhodes’ hands and shielded his face from the flames. The other simply sprayed them both with a fire extinguisher. The next minute, they changed positions.

Then they changed positions once again. It was hot, really hot. McClinchy’s eyebrows were burning, but neither wanted to leave the man in there alone.

A few minutes later, they heard a siren. Help was on the way. Half an hour after he saw that flash, Rhodes was inside a helicopter and on his way to University of Colorado Hospital.

Nearly 20 percent of Rhodes’ skin was burned. A bone in his right elbow was blackened, but his hands were uninjured.

“One of the first things (Rhodes’) mother asked me was how we knew to save his hands. Randy and I didn’t,” McClinchy said. They simply held his hands because that seemed like the right thing to do under the circumstances. They thought he was going to die. They had no idea he was a doctor.

Today, Rhodes is back in the operating rooms at Children’s Hospital. He operated at first with assistance from other surgeons last December, but a month later he was flying solo.

There have been countless hours of physical therapy and skin grafts. Doctors used skin from one of Rhodes’ legs for that. He’s undergone three surgeries, the last one in September about the time he returned to work.

Even today, pain remains. Rhodes said he’s “feeling good, not 100 percent but I’m working hard to try to get there.”

His patients call his journey an inspiration.

Sydney Doyle, 11, came to Rhodes when she broke both her legs during a skiing accident.

“He’s cool. I saw his burn,” she said.

It’s something Rhodes will readily do for any of his patients who ask him questions about the accident.

“With a lot of my patients I now tell them, ‘I know you’re hurt. I’ve been there. I can promise you, it’s going to get better,’ ” he said.

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