Federal law prohibits discrimination based on disability. This equality stands as paramount in the administration of life-saving treatments. Unfortunately, stereotypes on individuals with disabilities remain prevalent. Even trained health professionals can make unfortunate and inappropriate judgments on the value of life.
In North Carolina, an individual filed a complaint in 2018 with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and claimed that a doctor denied an individual with an intellectual disability a spot on a heart transplant list, based on the individual’s disability. The complaint alleged that the doctor thought that the individual would not be a good candidate for a heart transplant because the person could not live independently. The complaint further alleged that the individual would eventually die without the transplant. OCR investigated and has reached a resolution with the University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Care system. UNC Health Care agreed that it would amend the patient’s medical records to allow them to be considered for a spot on the transplant list. OCR also will provide technical assistance to the health care system in the development of their transplant eligibility policy.
“Every life is precious and no one should be blocked from access to an organ transplant because of stereotypes about persons with disabilities. It is also against the law,” said Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights.
We at Littman Krooks applaud OCR’s work and training to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive dignified and equal treatment in all sectors of life. We believe that a just and caring society should allocate resources to the least fortunate to the maximum extent possible.