TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney today announced that he will be introducing legislation in the immediate future that will ban hospitals in New Jersey from declining to do an organ transplant on someone simply because they have a developmental disability.
The legislation comes in the wake of an incident at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) where a family was allegedly told that their 3-year-old daughter would not be eligible for a kidney transplant because she is “mentally retarded”.
“There is no doubt that this story has highlighted a seriously overlooked issue in the country: Hospital policy regarding organ transplants for people with developmental disabilities,” said Sweeney. “People with developmental disabilities should not be treated as second-class citizens. Their disabilities do not make them any less human or worthy of respect and common decency. I will immediately be putting forward legislation that would prevent this kind of treatment from ever happening to someone who seeks care at a hospital in New Jersey.”
As highlighted by salon.com, the problem of hospitals declining transplants for people with developmental disabilities is not new, nor is it rare. Excuses vary as to why these individuals are denied, but they do include the idea that those with developmental disabilities do not enjoy the same quality of life as others. These kinds of decisions especially affect those with Down syndrome, because these individuals are nearly guaranteed to have some sort of heart defect. Senate President Sweeney’s daughter has Down syndrome.
“I would never want to get in the way of trained medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping people,” Sweeney added. “But this kind of decision making goes against every single fiber of common sense and decency one could imagine. It must end, period.”