Patients can’t be denied organ transplant for mental, physical disabilities

Sen. Barickman’s organ transplant discrimination bill signed into law

Doctors and medical providers will not be able to deny someone an organ transplant because of mental or physical disabilities, after legislation filed by state Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) was recently signed into law by the governor.

Under Barickman’s legislation, Senate Bill 500, doctors, hospitals and organ procurement organizations will be prohibited from declaring a patient ineligible for an organ transplant due to physical or mental disabilities. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker on July 23.

“People with physical and mental disabilities already face numerous challenges every day, and in some places, that extends to their ability to receive life-saving organ transplants,” said Barickman, whose district includes Livingston County. “No one should ever be denied an organ transplant due to a mental or physical disability.”

The idea for the legislation was brought to Barickman by a constituent, Kaylee Short, whose son was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

“When Wesley was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth I was completely overwhelmed with emotions. It was immediately obvious to me that certain rights and accomplishments that come more freely to most of us would not come as fairly and easily to him,” Short said.

“I’ve lived in Illinois my entire life, born and raised. Realizing that discrimination could happen in our state to individuals with disabilities just like my son, who are in need of organ transplants to survive, broke my heart. These kids and adults are worthy of every opportunity we are, and most importantly worthy of life. They work twice as hard at everything they do. The idea that they should have to also work harder at fair opportunity to organ transplants is disheartening.

“I am so grateful that is one less worry that so many special needs parents in Illinois will have to face. Everyone knows Wesley will likely always need us, what I hope people realize is we will always need him more.”