Man with heart defect needs help in face of mounting medical bills

SEATTLE -- Friends will tell you, Dale Vitiaz has a big heart. Dale is more likely to describe his heart as sick.

Dale was born with a leaky aortic valve and has gotten through most of his life with just a few complications. But in a routine checkup, he learned he needed immediate surgery and had to take a leave from his job.

"Because I've only been there less than a year, I don't qualify for FMLA," Dale said. "So it's been extremely financially difficult. We lost insurance right away."

Dale lost health insurance just days before open heart surgery.

"I see the stress that he's under and how it affects his recovery," said Dale's wife Savanah. "I watch him struggle everyday with it. I ask what are you thinking and he says nothing but it's weighing on him."

Savanah is also on leave so she can care for Dale. With no income, their bills are piling up.

Friends and their church have helped, but until Dale returns to work, they're slipping deeper in debt under a mountain of bills and expensive medications.

But they have hope, and heart.

"How I feel right now, the outcome is going to be way better than anyone could imagine it to be," Dale said.

"And we put him before anything. His health comes first," added Savanah.

Dale's co-workers at Evergreen Health donated paid time off to cover a couple months of COBRA so Dale should be able to resubmit medical bills. But he needs help with other expenses. If you'd like to help Dale, you can Donate to our Problem Solvers fund.