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Bill seeks to end organ transplant discrimination

Delaware Public Media


A bill in Delaware’s General Assembly could address discrimination against people with disabilities seeking organ transplants.

Organs are scarce and 22 people on the national transplant waiting list die every day. So some hospitals consider things like disabilities when deciding whether a person goes on the transplant waiting list.


But Delaware state Rep. Debra Heffernan is introducing a bill (HB 22) to curb this practice in the First State. She said there’s ample evidence showing a disability doesn’t affect a person’s viability for a transplant.


“But there is bias and discrimination early in the process because people assume that there will be less success,” she said.  


Heffernan said this type of discrimination typically affects young children with neurodevelopmental disorders like autism or Down syndrome. And parents are usually unaware these disabilities were even a factor in their child's denial.


But Heffernan adds her bill would also prevent discrimination against people of all ages with any mental or physical disability.


There are currently no recorded cases of organ-transplant discrimination in Delaware, but there is one case in New Jersey.


If the bill passes, Delaware would join New Jersey and California as the only states with this type of law. 

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