Inspired by the case of a young man with autism who was denied a place on a heart-transplant waiting list, a Philadelphia legislator will soon begin gathering support for a state bill that would prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities who want organ transplants.
Rep. John Sabatina (D., Phila.) plans to introduce "Paul's Law" in honor of Paul Corby of Pottsville, whose mother, Karen, said doctors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania refused to put him on the heart-transplant list because of his autism. Her petition on change.org protesting the decision has drawn more than 289,000 signatures.
The bill would let programs deny transplants to people with disabilities only if the disabilities are "medically significant" to the procedure. People with disabilities could not be denied because they cannot comply with complex post-transplant medical regimens as long as they have an adequate support system.
"It's the moral and correct thing to do," said Sabatina, who had a half-sister with an intellectual disability. He hopes for passage in 2014.
California has a similar law, and New Jersey passed one over the summer after Amelia Rivera, who has an intellectual disability, was turned away by Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's transplant program. The hospital later apologized and Rivera, 5, received one of her mother's kidneys in July.