Wednesday, November 14, 2018 – Critical anti-discrimination policy, championed by Senator John Sabatina, Jr. (D-Philadelphia), was signed into law by Governor Wolf, as Act 90. The law contains vital protections for disabled individuals in need of a lifesaving organ transplant.

“I am thrilled this bill has been signed into law by the Governor,” Sabatina stated.  “I have been fighting for those with special needs to be treated equally when it comes to getting on the transplant list.  I am pleased that they will now have the same possibilities as everyone else.” 

Act 90 contains language from Senator Sabatina’s Senate Bill 108, also known as “Paul’s Law”, which states that an individual shouldn’t be deemed ineligible for an organ transplant simply because of a physical or mental disability.  The legislation is modeled after similar bills in New Jersey and California.  Senator Sabatina has introduced this bill every legislative cycle since 2012. 

“Paul Corby’s mother came to me frustrated that her son was not treated fairly.  He was denied the possibility of a life-saving procedure because of his Autism.  Like any mother she cares about her son and wants to help him however she can,” Sabatina added. 

Paul Corby, from Pottsville, PA, was diagnosed with a rare, congenital heart condition called left ventricular noncompaction, which makes his heart less able to pump blood throughout his body and requires a heart transplant. Corby also has autism, a mood disorder and an intellectual disability, which caused the Penn Medicine Radnor transplant panel to deny his request for a heart transplant in 2012.

The Transplant Panel stated that Paul could not be recommended for a transplant due to his “psychiatric issues, autism, and the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior.”

While there are national standards for transplant candidacy, some institutions consider criteria such as mental, developmental, and physical disabilities. Unfortunately, individuals with disabilities have not always received equal treatment when in need of a life-giving organ transplant.  The intent of Paul’s Law was to correct that misconception. 

“Our job as elected officials are to improve people’s lives and fight for those whose voice is not being heard,” Sabatina commented.  “Today I feel that the Corby family has been heard, and the lives of those with special needs have been made better.  That’s all you can ask for.” 

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