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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ASD and a Heart Transplant

An earlier post dealt with Paul Corby, a 23-year-old man facing denial of a heart transplant in part because he has ASD.  Left Brain/Right Brain reports:
Earlier this year a story came out about a child being denied a transplant due to developmental disability. Now we have a story of an autistic adult possibly being denied a heart transplant due to autism. In Medical debate: Should autism block a man from getting a heart transplant? we read:
Twenty-three-year-old Paul Corby has a bad heart and a flawed mind.
The question before doctors now is whether his mental problems – he has a form of autism – are severe enough to make him a bad candidate for a heart transplant.
How characterizing him as having a “flawed mind” is helping, at all, is a good topic for discussion on its own.
Jonathan Dobrer puts a provocative frame on the issue:
A spokeswoman for the hospital said, "The physicians involved believe that any discussion of the specifics of his case would be most unkind to him and therefore will not comment."
This is a phrase of such cruel and ironic bureaucrat-ese that it defies parody. Disclosing the reasons for allowing him to die would be "unkind" but allowing him to die is, well, what: Kindness itself?
Yes, Paul is quirky and geeky. He plays video games, has written one self-published novel and is working on another. He seems to have a mental and intellectual quality of life worthy of continuing. As a person with autism, he has developmental issues and is not always socially appropriate, according to our normal rules. None of his behaviors seems to warrant the death penalty, which is exactly what the University of Pennsylvania Hospital is imposing by its refusal to treat.