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When Vicki Polin traveled 400 miles to get treatment for a heart defect, she had only $200 to her name. She ultimately needed heart surgery but had no idea how she'd afford her copay. Then a friend started a page for her on By the time she was discharged, her loved ones, and even strangers, had donated more than $1,000. In addition, she raised about $6,000 in the next couple of months to help cover more than $7,000 in related health expenses. "It literally helped save my life and was almost as important as the surgeon who performed [my] open-heart surgery," says the 52-year-old resident of Greater Chicago.

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