Donald Savastano was a self-employed carpenter eking out a marginal living without retirement savings or health insurance; when he won the $1 million jackpot in New York's "Merry Millionaire" lotto, he could finally afford to see a doctor to check out his long-term sense of unwellness.
The doctor told him he had late-stage brain and lung cancer. Savastano died three weeks after winning the jackpot.
The season of Republican attacks on broadening access to health-care in America has been marked by repetitions of the talking point that "No one in America dies for lack of health insurance."
This is an incorrect statement.
According to his obituary, Savastano is survived by his mother, four brothers and two sisters. The Queens native was well know for his high-quality carpentry work and "always tried to reach out and help those he could," by teaching "the right way to do things." He lived in Sidney with his long-term girlfriend, whose two sons he helped raise.
Man Uses $1m Win To Finally Visit Doctor, Gets Terminal Cancer Diagnosis, Dies Weeks Later [Harriet Sinclair/Newsweek]