Seeking your help
Congenital heart problem survivor faces new challenge
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Dec 22, 2013 | 5337 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kenneth Castano
SEEKING HELP – North Bergen resident Kenneth Castano is seeking help paying for his medical bills, following an operation to save vision in one eye.
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For North Bergen resident Kenneth Castano, overcoming major health issues seems to be

something he’s destined to do.

First, in 1988 he survived being born with only half of his heart formed. He is missing the left ventricle because of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), but has managed to live a seemingly normal life despite many surgeries.

But recently he came to a new health river he must navigate.

Now he is battling to save the vision in his left eye, after suddenly having a problem during a trip to the West Coast to visit his then ailing, but now recovering, father.

“While I was in California, something devastating happened, as if HLHS wasn’t enough for me,” Castano said. “I had to undergo emergency eye surgery. I had lost vision in my right eye due to the pupils getting too big; big enough to the point where they kept expanding until my retina detached from the eye.

“Due to me not having insurance in the state of California, and not being a state resident, I needed to pay out of pocket for this surgery,” he said. “The hospital said the surgery was not considered an emergency surgery because a date was picked by my surgeon. I didn’t go in through the emergency room and needed surgery right away. Therefore, the hospital considers this surgery ‘elective.’”

Castano said he feels this stance was “ridiculous,” because if he didn’t have the surgery performed, he could have lost his vision permanently.
“Right now, any donation will help and it’s very much appreciated.” – Kenneth Castano
He went ahead with the operation on Nov. 14, even without the health care coverage he needed. In recuperation now, he still can’t see out of that eye.

“I only see shapes, and the doctor said it will be a long recovery, approximately three months, but that vision is not guaranteed,” he said.

What this has done is left him with a tidal wave of medical bills, and also marooned him on the wrong coast, away from the rest of his family and friends.

“When I asked for state aid, I was rejected because I don’t reside in California; I reside in North Bergen,” he said. “However, I was denied flying privileges by my doctor due to the fact that the plane in the air would dangerously increase the pressure in my eye. If that happened, I would lose my vision.”

So he is stuck convalescing in California, probably into next year, while he struggles to pay hospital bills out of pocket that he never anticipated having to pay.

“I need help paying for all these new outstanding medical bills filling my mailbox,” he said. “I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. I need another heart surgery in about two months for a pacemaker battery replacement. So right now, any donation will help and it’s very much appreciated. I need help. I’m in desperate need of help from the public.”

Seeking public’s help

Castano is asking the public for its help with his predicament. He said that there is accountability that goes along with his request for assistance.

“I want to make clear that if you go on the GoFundMe page, everybody will be able to see the pictures of the bills receipts I’ve been able to pay with the donations, so far,” he said. “So far, I’ve gotten $1,785 in donations. Every time I make a payment, I post a picture with the receipt, the doctor’s information, and new balance. I still have to pay the remaining balance of the doctor bill, the hospital bill, and the anesthesiologist bill. My goal is to raise $5,000 so I’m able to pay some of the bills.”

To make a donation

The link to the GoFundMe page is: Donations can also be sent to: P. O. Box 387 North Bergen, NJ 07047 or via Paypal at:

Castano hopes he will get cleared to fly in January, and come home to North Bergen.

His original story can be found at:

From a baby born with only half a heart, Castano has come a long way, undergoing a number of surgeries throughout the years. For someone his parents were told only had a 10 percent chance of living, he has persevered.

Doctors had considered Castano an inspiration for making it against the odds.

“I like living life one heartbeat at a time,” Castano said.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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