Posted: Dec 09, 2013 10:00 AM
 
Five-month-old Maverick was denied a heart transplant because he had a rare genetic defect which increased his risk of infection. Was it right for doctors to deny him a heart considering the possible risks? Who deserves a transplant, and who doesn't?

I cannot fathom the terror I would feel if one of my children's organs was failing. I imagine the possibility of a transplant would offer me a great amount of hope. Medical science has turned illnesses that used to be death sentences into simple outpatient surgery. If my child was sick, I'd be ready to trust my doctor's advice.

However, for some, the failing organ isn't the biggest concern. The real problem is that, statistically speaking, someone else is more deserving of the organ.

The hospital refused to give Maverick a new heart because he was born with a rare genetic defect that put him at a higher risk of infections.

I recently read the story of Maverick Higgs, a 5-month-old boy who desperately needed a heart transplant. His parents, Autumn Chenkus and Charlie Higgs, hoped beyond hope that Maverick's doctors could save his life. Instead, the hospital refused to give Maverick a new heart because he was born with a rare genetic defect that put him at a higher risk of infections.

Because he had a statistical chance of complications, the hospital essentially sent this baby home to die.

I couldn't believe that this is actually how our healthcare system works with transplants. Really? Doctors just pick and choose who has good enough odds, and reject the others?

Maverick's parents fought incredibly hard for him to have even a chance at life. Eventually, they found another hospital willing to perform the transplant, but under their care, Maverick improved to the point that he no longer needed one.

There are thousands of people in need of a new heart. They are waiting, hoping that their name is the next one called. Some will get a new heart and some will die waiting. Transplants are said to be a precious resource. So doctors only give them to the candidate who stands to benefit the most and has the lowest risk of complications.

But low-risk transplants go wrong. And medical miracles happen. How can we pick and choose who should have a healthy heart, and who we let die? How in the world does anyone feel it's appropriate to make that decision?

I'm sure there are reasons we've come to this place… the place where a baby would be denied a life-saving surgery because of the "what-ifs." There are gut-wrenching decisions to be made by doctors every day, and I applaud them for their doing so.

But I think our system is broken when anyone would be denied a transplant just because it's risky. I may be naive, but if someone needs a heart, I believe they should be placed on the list. First come, first serve. There's no way to know what a person's quality of life will be. There's no way to know whether the transplant will be rejected.

All the statistics in the world cannot account for the human will to survive. The body is capable of things we still cannot comprehend. Things beyond the scope of science.

This is a time in which we know many things. So much information is at our fingertips. It's a wonderful thing. But let's not let it go to our heads… all the statistics in the world cannot account for the human will to survive. The body is capable of things we still cannot comprehend. Things beyond the scope of science. So perhaps science does not have all the answers. Perhaps everyone should have an equal chance to survive. I would sure want that for my kid, disabled or not.

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