Member Regains Medical after Surgery for Deteriorating Heart Valve
“I was a little bit naïve, and AOPA helped me through it.”
Don Hull is an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2007, Don’s doctor noted a potential problem in the form of a heart murmur which his doctor believed might be helped with medication, but needed to be monitored.
The following year, the situation was worse and surgery was called for. At that time, Don was told his heart valve could be repaired and did not have to be replaced. Unfortunately, several days after the repair surgery, a second surgery was necessary to totally replace the valve. All of this left Don with no medical. That was in April 2009.
Although he’d been an AOPA member since 1984, the year he earned his private license, he had never joined AOPA’s Medical Services Program. When Don was told he would need surgery, he telephoned AOPA to ask about this service and decided to join as he knew he would have to get his Medical back.
“My Medical expired on the 31st of March, a week before my surgery. I would have self-declared that I wasn’t able to fly, however,” he says. Now enrolled in AOPA’s Medical Services Plan, he was told that AOPA would help him submit a package to the FAA.
“What I submitted was more than 300 pages of my medical record, including 150 pages from Vanderbilt, where I had the surgery – it was every sheet of paper from the day I went in to the day I was discharged,” Don says. He says he did not submit anything to his AME or to the FAA without talking to AOPA first. “AOPA reviewed every piece of paper,” he says.
Don says the review period might have added a few extra weeks to the process, but he says it was well worth it in terms of his own peace of mind. He says, “I have heard horror stories of people’s paperwork being hung up for months, and I didn’t want that to happen to me.”
After he submitted his package to the FAA, he heard back once that the agency required four items and he had 30 days to submit them. Don jokes, “I went into panic mode and called AOPA. I realized that I could supply all four easily – in fact, the FAA already had two of the items.”
At the end of June, Don says, “AOPA sent me an email saying they had just checked and that I would get my Special Issuance Class 3 Medical, and sure enough, a week later I got it in the mail.” The Special Issuance Medical means that Don must pass the medical exam every year instead of every two years.
For Don Hull, joining AOPA’s Medical Services Plan was well worth it. He says, “From the standpoint of accurate advice, AOPA knows what they’re doing. There’s a peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a third party to talk to and to ask questions.”
October 26, 2010