15,000 Demand Transplant for Mentally Delayed Child

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Explosive campaign on Change.org calls on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to immediately reverse decision blocking transplant for sick girl; family’s allegation that the hospital denied surgery due to “mental retardation” sparks outrage.

"As a mother of two sons on the severe end of the autism spectrum, I could not sit back and let anyone tell another special needs parent that their child is not worthy of living."

More than 15,000 people in 15 states have joined a popular campaign on Change.org calling on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to allow three-year-old Amelia Rivera a kidney transplant her family says she needs to survive.

Sunday Stilwell, a mother of two autistic boys, launched the campaign on Change.org after reading a blog post by Amelia’s mother, Chrissy Rivera, about a meeting with hospital staff. In the post Rivera alleges that hospital staff explained her daughter, a three-year old with Wold-Hischhorn Syndrome, was not eligible for a medically-necessary kidney transplant due to “mental delays.”

"As a mother of two sons on the severe end of the autism spectrum, I could not sit back and let anyone tell another special needs parent that their child is not worthy of living,” said Sunday Stilwell, who launched the campaign on Change.org. “I read Amelia's story and imagined myself sitting across the table from a doctor and social worker telling me my boys’ lives have no value, and I knew I had to do something to make sure this never happens to another family."

More than 15,000 people joined StilweIls’s campaign on Change.org in less than 48 hours and over the weekend.

“What these concerned citizens have accomplished in just a few days is remarkable,” said Change.org Director of Organizing Corinne Ball. “With no budget and armed with only a laptop, Sunday Stilwell has managed to recruit more than 15,000 supporters from 15 states. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch Sunday’s campaign take off.”

Stilwell hopes her petition on Change.org will result in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) reconsidering their decision. The hospital has responded to the controversy with a statement on Facebook: “We want you to know that CHOP does not have any criteria which exclude patients from being considered for transplant solely on the basis of their cognitive status. Transplant programs at CHOP have never declined a patient for transplant based solely on their cognitive status and we have performed transplants on many children with disabilities and impairments.”

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Benjamin Joffe-Walt
Change.org
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