Being a fighter can be an expensive career. You've got the cost of training, which unlike regular nine to fives, is required constantly. Then you have to figure in the cost of training gear. Add to that medical costs. If you're one of the lucky ones, you work for one of the two Zuffa organizations, UFC or Strikeforce. If that is the case, then your medical is covered for injuries. It is not always a foregone conclusion that expenses get covered. There may be extenuating circumstances that prevent a full payout, and as Strikeforce lightweight, Conor Heun is rapidly discovering, the words 'preexisting condition' equate to crippling medical debt left hanging in the balance. I recently spoke with Heun, to get the scoop on his financial difficulties after multiple surgeries following his fight with Ryan Couture.
Basically, I had torn labrums in both hips, an avulsion fracture on the left side. The docs looked at my hips and said, 'No man, you're done.' I searched all over and ended up finding a doctor in Boulder, CO who is a hip specialist. He came in, looked them over and said he could fix them. He could repair the labrums, but he told me I had a congenital hip dysplasia on the right side that me more predispositioned to having damage on that side. He said he was going to go in and do a periacetabular osteotomy. It's a pretty in depth procedure, but it basically changes the interface between the pelvis and the femur, and prevents the femur from hitting and tearing the labrum.
When they went in, there was some difficulty because the doctor said he'd never seen bone as dense as mine. I ended up having complications that included a transfusion and staying in the hospital for eight days. I got out, and started rehabbing so we could go back in and do the left side. They had to do one side at a time so I wouldn't be in a wheel chair. Three days before the last surgery, I was informed that the insurance company had denied the claim. My doctor has been going back and forth with the insurance company because there is still hardware in there that needs to be removed, and finish the repairs. My doctor gave me his services for free, and did the last surgery, but the rental of operating room from the hospital, the recovery area, the anesthesiologist, the catheter that goes in your weenie [laughs], all that has to be covered, and basically, I've got $40k in bills sitting on my table now.
Crooklyn referred me to FundAFighter, and they've been working with me to help raise money to cover these medical expenses. There was a couple weeks where I really struggled before going forward with the campaign. It's very difficult for a person like me to reach out and ask for help. I like to rely on myself, but I learned a lesson in humility with this, and am reaching out to the community now. The response has been just overwhelming.
One thing Conor was adamant about, is that he's extremely grateful to Zuffa for covering over $200k of his medical bills to date. Only the last procedure hangs in the balance, which he hopes to get resolved soon. He's also thankful for the fight opportunities he's been offered, and feels he'll be back on his career path and hopefully in the octagon soon.
You know, I'm a real open guy. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and since the Ryan Couture fight, I've been real low. That's the great thing about Twitter. It's a great tool to connect with the fans, but my emotions are out there, and I know I need to probably tone things down a little. I'm just really grateful to Zuffa for covering all of my other costs, which are around $200k and I'm thankful they still try to give me fight opportunities. I think that's why I am here on the planet, though. It's to learn as many life lessons as I can, and sometimes you're gonna make mistakes along the way. It's all about learning from those mistakes. In these hardest of times, that's when your soul really grows.
You can follow Conor via his Twitter account, @ConorHeun