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6/16/2021 House passes Giraldo legislation banning discrimination against organ recipients based on disability
STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Joshua J. Giraldo (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) that would prohibit discrimination against a potential organ transplant recipient based solely on a physical or mental disability.

Under the legislation (2021-H 6079) an individual who is a candidate to receive an anatomical gift would not be deemed ineligible or denied insurance coverage solely based on the individual’s physical or mental disability, except to the extent that the physical or mental disability has been found by a physician or surgeon to be medically significant to the provision of the anatomical gift.

“We must always remain vigilant in protecting those who are differently abled,” said Representative Giraldo. “Unfortunately, organ transplants denials are based on disability rather than suitability. The discrimination faced by this community is still very real; and while the Americans with Disabilities Act affords many protections, some of that legislation is vague, leaving it up to us to further strengthen and define those protections in state law. This particular bill would provide a quick resolution process, which is imperative for those in need of a timely transplant.”

Because of a lack of federal enforcement, there is a demonstrated need for state action to ensure the rights of people with disabilities including Down syndrome. Denying organ transplants to people with intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities like Down syndrome or autism is common in the United States, even though it is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“With more than 100,000 people on organ waiting lists, doctors have to make difficult decisions about which patients are likely to benefit most,” said Representative Giraldo. “But that decision should never be based on the myth that differently disabled people will not be able to comply with post-transplant requirements or won’t have an improved quality of life with a transplant.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2021-S 0246) has been introduced by Sen. Jonathon Acosta (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903