Sunday: Bombing survivors say fund requests denied
BY ZIVA BRANSTETTER World Enterprise Editor
Saturday, November 03, 2012
11/03/12 at 4:17 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly 18 years after a bomb ripped apart a federal building in Oklahoma City, more than $12 million in donated funds remains and survivors say the foundation in charge of most of it has denied requests for surgery, tuition and other needs donors intended to be funded.
Deloris Watson has cared for her grandson P.J. Allen since his lungs were nearly destroyed by the blast April 19, 1995. At 18 months, P.J. was the youngest survivor of the America’s Kids day-care center, where 15 children died.
P.J.’s injuries left him with a tracheotomy — a tube placed in the neck to provide a direct airway — which doctors said could be removed at age 10. Watson said she learned the surgery has a high failure rate and she found a specialist in Ohio with a good record of success.
Watson said she asked the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, which controls $10 million of the remaining funds, to help pay for travel and medical expenses.
“They told me he had to have five failed surgeries in the state of Oklahoma before they would pay for him to go out of state. That’s ridiculous,” she said.
Watson said she received help from the American Red Cross and Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati, where she stayed for a year while her grandson learned to swallow, eat and drink again.
She said she is concerned the fund will deny future requests and that other bombing survivors are afraid to speak out because they are at the mercy of the foundation.
“P.J. some day may need a lung transplant. It let me know I certainly can’t depend on the bombing fund if he does. I am fighting for P.J. I don’t want him to have to fight.”
Allen is now 19 and attends Oklahoma State University. Watson said the fund has paid for some of her grandson’s college tuition and living expenses, but she has had to fight to get those expenses covered. One semester, Watson was told “the books were closed,” and she had to pay thousands of dollars herself, she said.
Read more in Sunday's World.
P.J. Allen (left) and Deloris Watson (center) listen to neurologist Travis Kanaly in Oklahoma City. Allen, the youngest survivor of the Oklahoma City bombing, has continuing medical problems and could require a lung transplant. Watson said a foundation that controls money donated for bombing survivors has refused to help pay for expenses related to Allen's medical treatment. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World