DENVER (CBS4) – A young singer who has had to fight over the years just to stay alive recently found herself in a different sort of fight, one that pitted her against insurance companies and the federal government.

CBS4 followed Erienne Romaine several years ago as she endured brain surgery. Romaine was a young teenager at the time but her voice was mature and strong, and so was her will to persevere through a difficult medical situation.

Romaine was born with an arteriovenous malformation, or an AVM, which is a dangerous tangle of blood vessels arteries and veins in her brain. Doctors told her the condition could paralyze her with little hope of recovery.

Doctors successfully removed the malformation seven years ago but a tiny cluster came back and had to be treated again last summer.

Since that treatment she says she has been “feeling great.”

“I felt like I had a new lease on life,” she said.

But feeling great has cost her.

“I received a phone call that my claims surrounding the gamma knife (procedure) were going to be denied and that I may owe my provider $136,000, which is a killer at 22,” she told CBS4.

Then she received more bad news. Because of her debt the government wouldn’t honor her student loans, meaning she couldn’t begin graduate school in Oxford, England, this fall.

“I couldn’t speak .. all the months of hard work,” she said.

Erienne Romaine

Erienne Romaine talks with CBS4’s Suzanne McCarroll. (credit: CBS)

So Romaine contacted CBS4 and shared all the documentation of what she’s been through. CBS4 then contacted dozens of different governmental officials and finally found someone at the Department of Education willing to hear her story.

Then Romaine shared her big news with CBS4’s Suzanne McCarroll.

“I found out today that the Department of Education not only reviewed my appeal but approved it, which I was not expecting. I’m so heartened by it,” she said.

At a recent performance, Romaine sang from the heart, grateful that doctors gave her a second chance at life and thankful she can use her renewed health to pursue her dreams of becoming a professor and an even more accomplished singer.


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