Thursday, February 16, 2012

Philadelphia hospital says it's sorry for handling of disabled girl's kidney transplant quest

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia apologized Wednesday for the way it had communicated with the parents of Amelia Rivera (pictured), the 3-year-old disabled girl whose parents want her to have a kidney transplant.

In a statement released with the approval of the Riveras, the hospital expressed regret for how it had handled the situation.

Joe and Chrissy Rivera gained national attention in January when they said a hospital physician had recommended against such a transplant because of her mental disability.

Amelia suffers from a condition called Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, which causes a variety of developmental delays.

Hospital officials initially declined to comment on the case, citing confidentiality rules, but said that in general, they do not take intellectual ability into account when determining transplant eligibility.

But in the statement issued Wednesday, the hospital said: "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."

The statement was issued by Michael Apkon, the hospital's senior vice president and chief medical officer.

The hospital said that no decision had been made on whether the surgery would be performed.

"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," Apkon continued, "including the specific needs of families of children with disabilities."

The Riveras, of Stratford, Camden County, also contributed to the statement.

"Despite an unfortunate encounter a few weeks ago, we hold the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in high regard," Joe and Chrissy Rivera said. "We've had a three-year relationship with the hospital and are pleased with the care that Amelia has received. Our hope is that this experience will heighten the medical community's sensitivity to and support for the disabilities community."