Organ Transplant Discrimination Against People With Autism: The Fight Continues As Bias Still Exist

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald March 06, 04:00 am

People with autism continue to be challenged when it comes to organ transplant discrimination. A good number of patients with mental health disorders and disabilities are still being turned down or placed below the waiting list of transplant recipients and this problem has been going on for years.

With over 815 transplant programs in the United States, only a handful actually consider the eligibility of people with autism as priority recipients with respects to the Americans With Disabilities Act. One case that has sparked awareness and debate over organ transplant discrimination involves Paul Corby, who still needs a new heart.

Corby, 27, has been waiting to be on the transplant list since 2011. He was rejected by programs because of his "psychiatric issues, autism" and "the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior," according to Washington Post.

Corby's case is not isolated as doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers who decide on who gets into the transplant programs admitted they do rule out people with autism or disabilities on the spot. Aside from people with autism, also on low on the priority list are people with Asperger's, Down syndrome, genetic disorders and other intellectual disabilities.

The bias continues because there's no system in place to oversee checks, balances and accountabilities. In fact, recipient decisions vary from programs to programs and a case rejected in one agency could be approved in another agency.

During President Barack Obama's time, some 30 members of Congress urged the Department of Health to look into this matter of discrimination and set up concrete guidelines. "No one should be denied their right to life simply because of their intellectual and/or development disabilities," the congressmen's letter noted.

Since the move by Congress, states like California, New Jersey and Maryland have established laws to ensure people with autism do not experience organ transplant discrimination. The development has been slow in other states, however, and it's unclear how President Donald Trump's lawmakers and departments will address this problem in the next four years.

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