Crowdfunding Medical Bills - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Fundraising Online to Help with Medical Bills

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Twenty-eight year old Amelia Coffaro is in the fight of her life. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of inflammatory breast cancer. She started chemo, and underwent a double mastectomy less than 6 weeks later. Dr. Alysandra Aal is her surgeon.

"She is handling this phenomenally well. But you have to understand, to be 28 and given this diagnosis hits you out of left field."

She had no health insurance to ward off what quickly became a mountain of medical bills. So a group of her friends got together and did something very loving - and very effective. It's called crowd-funding, raising start-up money for small businesses. In this case - for Project Amelia.

"It's a lot of money."

Using a website called www.giveforward.com, Amelia's friends raised $50,000 - money that almost matches what she owes. The website narrowed its focus to medical expenses. And why not? Half of American adults say they would not be able to easily come up with just $2,000 in case of a medical emergency.

"We realized what a huge problem it really was in this country and we shifted our focus to focus only on medical," says Give Founder Ethan Austin.

Like similar sites, Give Forward makes money from small fees connected to the donations. It's not just friends and family donating, but long-lost acquaintances - and even total strangers.

"I think I was humbled by how many people reached out to me, who didn't even know me. There are no words to describe that feeling."

Amelia is getting treatment now so she can be close to her immediate family. And she was able to get Medicaid to help cover upcoming expenses. Her doctors say reducing the financial burden, affected her recovery.

"It shows a huge well of support for her. People she knows. People she doesn't know, who are all there supporting her -- not just emotionally, but also financially," says Dr. Lal.

Since launching, www.giveforward.com has already donated more than $52 million to thousands of families.

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