TRINITY, Fla. (WFLA) — Army veteran Paul Umbaugh’s decision to opt out of kidney treatment to draw attention to delays and other glitches in the VA transplant process has gained the attention of federal authorities.

Congressman Gus Bilarakis’ Deputy Chief of Staff Summer Blevins reached out to Umbaugh Thursday, offering to contact VA Secretary Denis McDonough on his behalf “given the time sensitive nature of your case.”

Umbaugh said he was told he would have about 10 days to live after going off dialysis. The 10th day was Thursday.

“Maybe it will make [the VA] do what they should be doing by helping veterans,” Umbaugh said. “And it could save someone else’s life.”

In her email, Blevins told Umbaugh “our policy team would also like to look into the barriers you have encountered to see if there is a way that we can prevent this from occurring with other veterans.”

Umbaugh is not alone in his frustration, according to USF Public Health and Medicine Professor Jay Wolfson.

Wolfson said the painful process of dialysis has led other patients to opt out of the treatment and he added he understands how delays and red tape could’ve pushed Umbaugh toward his decision.

“Sometimes you need to fire a shot across the bow and the VA suddenly wakes up and says we need to do something about this case,” Wolfson said.

Wolfson said while the VA transplant system has issues with staffing right now, he is confident the resources are available to fast-track Umbaugh’s transplant.

Wolfson also encouraged Umbaugh to change his mind.

“Don’t give up just yet,” Wolfson said. “I know it can be painful and frustrating, but you’ve got a lot to live for. You’re still a young guy.”

James A. Haley VAMC spokesperson Kim Antos has also contacted Umbaugh.

“The VA transplant team has been in close contact with Mr. Umbaugh, listened to his concerns, provided education on solid organ donor processes and additional support options,” Antos said. “He continues to be followed by his primary providers and should his care decisions change regarding transplantation, he can absolutely reach out to his care team.”

Umbaugh has been in contact with hospice care and said he was experiencing swelling and a heaviness in his chest. But he said he has no plans to resume dialysis treatment.

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