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Legislation would prevent organ transplant denial based on recipient's disability

Maxim Jenkins

Health care providers would not be able to deny organ transplants based on a recipient’s disability under a bill expected it to make it through a state Senate Committee this week.

The Senate Committee on Health Policy and Human Services heard public comment on the measure during its last meeting.

Gary Koutsoubos is with the National Down Syndrome Society and was among the speakers.

“The lack of federal enforcement, there’s a demonstrated need for state action to ensure the rights of people with disabilities,” he said.

Koutsoubos cited a 2008 Stanford study that found over 40% of pediatric transplant centers considered neurodevelopmental delay when deciding who gets a transplant.

“These numbers are extremely concerning," Koutsoubos said. "Each of those numbers represents real people who are being discriminated against.”

Republican state Senator Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) chairs the Committee on Health Policy and Human Services. He says he expects smooth sailing for the bill.

“I would think that we shouldn’t have any problem getting it across, through committee and on to the floor and over to the governor.”

VanderWall says the committee will probably vote on the measure during its next meeting on Thursday.

That’s when it will likely also vote on measures requiring the state to stockpile medical supplies in case of an emergency, and allowing HIV positive individuals to donate blood and organs to other people with HIV .

Those bills already cleared the state House of Representatives by a wide margin.

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