A Philadelphia hospital is apologizing for how it handled the case of a 3-year-old who was reportedly denied a transplant because she has an intellectual disability.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia issued a statement Wednesday along with Joe and Chrissy Rivera, a New Jersey couple who went public last month saying they were told that their daughter could not receive a life-saving kidney transplant because of her disability.
“As an organization, we regret that we communicated in a manner that did not clearly reflect our policies or intent and apologize for the Riveras’ experience,” said Michael Apkon, senior vice president and chief medical officer at the hospital. “We are completely committed to the careful review of our processes and written material to ensure that we are sensitive to the needs of all families, including the specific needs of families of children with disabilities.”
The Riveras’ story made national news after Chrissy Rivera wrote in a blog posting that a doctor at the children’s hospital told her that her daughter, Amelia, would not be eligible for a transplant because she’s “mentally retarded.” In response, more than 40,000 people signed an online petition calling for the hospital to reverse course.
Since then, the hospital agreed to evaluate Amelia for a transplant, but no decisions have been made.
“Despite an unfortunate encounter a few weeks ago, we hold The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in high regard,” Joe and Chrissy Rivera said in the statement. “Our hope is that this experience will heighten the medical community’s sensitivity to and support for the disabilities community.”
Amelia was born with a rare chromosomal disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome that’s marked by the presence of intellectual disability, developmental delay, seizures and distinct facial characteristics.
Hospital officials insisted in the statement that they “do not disqualify transplant patients on the basis of intellectual ability.”