determining who is “good enough” to receive advanced medical care…

determining who is “good enough” to receive advanced medical care… January 17, 2012

… This is Amelia. Amelia needs a new kidney but is being denied the medical care to save her life because a committee of doctors felt Amelia was not worth saving.

Please read the Rivera’s heartbreaking story and pray for Amelia and her family. Also, share Amelia’s story on your own blogs and on Twitter (#teamamelia) because the internet can be used for good. Even USA Today picked up the story due to the powerful word of mouth on blogs and social media.

Sadly, determining who is worthy for advanced medical treatment is something hospitals do all the time. It is a reality due to the cost of treatment. I’ve seen people denied care for being too old or too sickly. If someone is going to die anyway, or is close to death, then why bother trying to save them, right? Why not use the medical resources on someone else a bit healthier or younger or not mentally retarded… someone who will have a good quality life. Never mind that we are all going to die one day so this argument is invalid.

And here we are again, judging who deserves to live or die. A life lived with a developmentally delayed mind may not be an ideal life for a young girl but it’s the life she was given and ultimately worth trying to save.

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  • Michael

    This is also a call to be organ donors. Part of what is driving this decision by the doctors’ committee is the lack of viable donor organs (which is why the committee exists in the 1st place). Patients in need of a replacement organ are ranked on a number of criteria and those best matched to an available organ are given precedence (I am well aware of this as if I needed a donor organ I’d be pretty low on the totem pole myself). I suspect that if this family went to a GOOD Catholic hospital (yes they exist!) and, as they have volunteered their own kidney (I pray it is a viable match), they could find a surgeon who would do the surgery. Maybe the Catholic blogger community could take up a collection to get this family to this hospital?

    • Mental retardation is not a reason to deny a transplant.  The doctors and the committees they hide behind have forgotten the Hippocratic oath.  It is disgusting.  May God touch the hearts and minds of the people who believe that MR means a lesser quality of life with the truth of the horrors they are allowing.

      • Patricia

        Sadly, many (most?) medical schools gave up having their students take the Hippocratic Oath (which also says the doctor will not induce an abortion) long ago.

      • Michael

        Christine, I would agree with you 100% if the sole reason the committee might reject Amelia was her mental retardation (and it’s criminal that the doctor & social worker focused on that particular condition in their discussions with her parents). However, the article also notes that Amelia’s condition includes:

        “Hepatitis C” (is she going to need a liver soon?)”Brain Damage” (it isn’t stated whether this is related to the mental retardation 0r some additional condition)”HIV” (what stage? how bad?)”another one {kidney? transplant} in twelve years.” (Why? Is the kidney damage being caused by a virus or some other continuing condition?)

        These are triage issues/questions. Triage is what a medical professional has to do in assigning limited resources to multiple patients requiring those resources. The article doesn’t present a disinterested party perspective either. We’re hearing from Amelia’s mother only. Also it appears that the doctor (probably a surgeon from his conversation) is speaking on his own and not as the hospital transplant(?) committee. Also, why is there a social worker present (not typically part of a transplant discussion). Is Amelia a ward of the state (which would typically influence the committee negatively, sad to state).

        It appears to me, as I write this, that there is more to this situation than has been made known to us. I would want to know more (from objective 3rd parties) before making the assertion unconditionally that Amelia should have the surgery. However, I WOULD unconditionally condemn the attitude (if true) that the social worker & the doctor relayed that, based solely on Amelia’s mental retardation, she should be denied a transplant.

        • Joshua Korf

          I read it that way the first time as well, but I don’t think that is what she was saying.  If you read it carefully, the mom is pointing out that Hep C was on the same form, indeed adjacent to, Mental Retardation; and HIV was similarly juxtaposed with Brain Damage.  “Mental Retardation” and “Brain Damage” were the two highlighted phrases.

          On second and all subsequent readings of the original post I am convinced that this is the point she was trying to convey.

  • I saw this over at Jean’s blog, Catholic fire…..pretty hard to believe this, but know we are in a very dangerous world.

  • Outrageous!  Smug idiot doctors like that only add to the problem.

  • Eli Horowitz


  • ds

    I don’t pretend to know enough to have a position on this girl’s case.  But…

    And here we are again, judging who deserves to live or die. 

    If you have five kidneys, and eight people who need a transplant to live, what do you propose be done?

  • Meenal Webpr

    i wish she will be well soon……