Imagine needing a life-saving kidney transplant, and being denied access to an organ transplant wait list.
This is the reality for some Americans living with a disability. They need a life-saving organ transplant, but doctors tell them they’re not a good candidate. Why?
Often the reason is discrimination:
- Some doctors may refuse an organ transplant for individuals with disabilities that need help to follow post-transplant treatment plans (even if they have already secured post-op help).
- Some doctors may believe that individuals without a disability should have higher priority to organ transplant wait lists.
But tell me, who gets to decide who’s life is more significant than another’s?! This is not only a right to life issue, but a civil right’s issue!
James Wellman is living this nightmare right now. The 26-year-old with Down syndrome is likely to die soon because he his kidneys are only functioning at 12%. Doctors won’t let him on an organ transplant wait list. His family is distraught. Watch his story below.
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides broad protections against healthcare discrimination, but there’s no federal enforcement when it comes to organ transplant discrimination. Often their loved one with a disability dies while families try to find recourse through ADA.
That’s why states must step up to ensure people with disabilities are protected from discrimination.
I introduced possible legislation to my state legislator, and after agreeing it was needed he spent the summer drafting the bill. Ohio State Representative, Niraj Antani, plans to introduce the bill to prevent organ transplant discrimination in my state next week. You can view the draft bill here: Organ Transplant Waitlist Anti-Discrimination Bill
Only 5 states (California, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey) currently have organ transplant anti-discrimination laws. Three other states (Delaware, Kansas, Oregon) currently have a bill working it’s way through state legislatures. All of these bills are bipartisan.
With help from disability groups across my state, as well as doctors’ organizations, I hope we’re able to lead the charge against discrimination for our loved ones here in Ohio…
Because they’re #NOT DEAD YET!
If you’re interested in introducing an organ transplant anti-discrimination bill in your own state visit my “Advocacy” page under “Resources.” The NDSS created a toolkit for advocates with model legislation and other helpful resources on this topic.
I will post updates of our efforts here in Ohio as well.