Saturday, August 18, 2012

Man with Autism Denied Heart Transplant -Please Be an Organ Donor

I pray my brother in law Bil never has any kind of medical problem.

There was the little girl in the news several months ago because Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) denied her a kidney transplant (a family member was the donor) because the little girl was (OK we are going to be politically incorrect here) intellectually handicapped.

Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia of all hospitals.  Years ago they saved the life of someone I know.  I guess lucky for him he wasn't handicapped.

Now, another hospital has denied a 23 year old man, with autism and "psychiatric issues" a heart transplant.  And, what a surprise, in Pennsylvania.

What is going on here?  Well, like so much in this world, it is more complicated than a surface rejection of someone with a disability.  Transplantable organs are scarce.  Doctors, everyday, must do a type of triage.  A terrible type of triage. (this was not an issue in the CHOP case but it is with the man with autism case.)

Yes, organs are scarce.  But do not people with autism have the same right to life as all of us?

But in the meantime.....

What needs to be worked on first (as it happens, I know someone with kidney disease - not Bil, but someone who knows Bil- so this is an interest close to my heart) is why we have shortages of transplantable organs in this country.  It's because the pool of people who have declared their OK to have organs taken from them in case of untimely death is a lot smaller than it should be.

Unlike kidneys (and livers), which can come from living donors, hearts can not.

There is one immediate way to increase the supply - sign the part of your drivers license that permits organ transplants.  If you are applying for a license, or renewing one, check that box.  Some states also have a registry.  Please do it.  Today, if possible.  You could indirectly save the life of someone you know or love.

And back to the issue of people with handicaps and organ transplants - there must be a STOP to using a person's handicap to deny a transplant just because there is a handicap.  Even the doctors in the man with autism heart transplant case admit that his autism in itself would not cause him to reject the heart.  It is other issues - that, perhaps, could be controlled.  Yes, antirejection drugs would be needed, but what happens if, for example, if a person with autism has diabetes?

But until there are more organs available - and more enlightenment about autism - I fear for Bil.

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