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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Another viewer received a big surprise in the mail. All of her medical debt was paid off by FOX59.

Sonya Brown was having a hard time wrapping her head around what just happened. More than $15,000 in medical debt suddenly disappeared.

“I said, ‘Oh my God. God is good.’ And I started crying,” she explained.

She’s the latest Hoosier to get a letter in the mail telling her FOX59 just paid off her medical bills.

We began that mission after learning nearly one in every four Hoosiers in central Indiana had medical debt that’s gone into collections. We knew people were struggling to pay this debt and it was ruining their credit and their lives. So we stepped in.

We teamed up with RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit that takes donations and buys up medical debt in the secondary debt market for pennies on the dollar. Once they buy the debt, they forgive it.

FOX59 donated $15,000 which turned into nearly $1.5 million of medical debt paid off. Our recipients are chosen at random but fit a few qualifications:

  • Earn less than 2x the federal poverty level
  • Have debts 5% or more of annual income
  • Face insolvency — debts are greater than assets

Sonya’s plight began nearly 10 years ago when she said she suddenly got sick and went to the hospital.

“I couldn’t drink nothing. I couldn’t eat nothing. Everything came up,” she recalled.

She told us she was eventually diagnosed with Gastroparesis. She’s doing better now, but all those hospital tests ran up a pretty big bill. It’s been hanging over her head ever since.

“I couldn’t do nothing about it,” she said.

Now, all of her medical debt is gone.

“FOX59 stepped in, picked up a bill that I wouldn’t have never thought about trying to pay, because I couldn’t,” she said. “Who does that? FOX59. Believe it.”

The wife and mother of a teenage daughter is already making plans. She said she’d like to buy a house for her family one day, instead of renting all the time.

Sonya works in the healthcare industry and has seen what medical debt can do to other families. So after discovering how FOX59 paid off her debt, she told us she planned to pay it forward.

“If I can put $10 or $20 into the program, you can too,” she said.

You can help pay off someone’s medical bills too. While you cannot buy a specific family’s medical debt, your donation can go to a central Indiana family.

You can donate to RIP Medical Debt by clicking here. Every dollar you donate, will wipe out $100 of someone’s medical debt. $10 eliminates $1,000 of medical debt. $100 gets rid of $10,000.