06/28/2012 06:23 pm ET

Fred Lempe, Father Of Comatose Patient, Fighting To Keep Guardianship Of Son

A North Carolina man is fighting a hospital to keep legal guardianship of his son.

Freddie Lempe, 18, of Smithfield, North Carolina, has been in a hospital bed ever since he suffered a severe brain injury during a March 2011 car accident. Now, his hospital is filing a suit to transfer guardianship away from his father, ABC News reports (h/t The Daily Mail). Fred Lempe failed to submit the paperwork required to prolong his son’s Medicaid coverage after he turned 18, according to the court documents. The cost of care already appears to have totalled $2 million to $4 million, WRAL reports .

WakeMed Hospital, where Lempe is staying, is pushing for the courts to appoint an outside attorney or caregiver agency, a spokesperson told The Huffington Post.

"The intent of the guardianship request is to secure Medicaid coverage for which we believe Freddie is eligible," she was quoted as telling the ABC News.

Lempe's father -- who hospital staff call Nurse Lempe due to his devotion, according to the Pray4Freddie Facebook page -- claims that the Johnston County Department of Social Services gave him false information about extending the coverage. He said he fears that losing guardianship would put his ability to make decisions about his son’s medical care in jeopardy, according to his attorney Marcia Stewart.

A judge ruled this week that the father has until July 25th to get his Medicaid paperwork together before guardianship could potentially be transferred, according to ABC News.

Guardianship cases initiated by hospitals are rare. More common are fights between caregivers and family members. In El Paso, Texas, one father is fighting for the guardianship of his 29-year-old institutionalized son, after he was transferred without notification, the El Paso Times reports. The hospital claims that the son became violent and sexually aggressive.

Far more common are disputes over medical bills, which can have far reaching ramifications. About 60 percent of Americans who file for bankruptcy do so because of medical expenses and, as a result, many have tried to find unique ways to pay them off. Drew Cox, 6, raised $10,000 to pay for his Dad’s medical expenses by selling lemonade in April. Others, including the Lempes who now have a YouTube account, build awareness via the internet.



See photos of Freddie Lempe from the Pray4Freddie Facebook page below:

Hospital Sues For Guardianship In $4 million Health Care Bill Case
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