Eliminate Discriminatory Policy of Medical Facilities for Liver Transplants

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We are raising awareness of the discriminatory six-month sobriety policy enforced by the majority of medical facilities in the United States, preventing her from receiving a lifesaving liver transplant, of which others without her history are not subject to. My wife is of Native American descent and a member of the Potawatomi Nation. Natives have a historical predisposition to Alcoholism to no fault of their own (see article below). Differing factors of biology & genetics have plagued them with this substance since the first Europeans arrived on the shores of their sacred soil. Duette is currently being hospitalized in California where the doctors have told us they have done all they can do for her. They are being held back by policy and lack of technology to extend her life to get a liver transplant. They refuse to put her on the donor list until she proves her sobriety for six months, and do not even provide the technology of Liver Dialysis to extend her life to being able to receive a liver. She has a lineup of live donors, like myself, willing to donate a portion of our liver to save her. She is being refused treatments, such as Liver Dialysis, which can extend her life during her wait period for a new liver. And, are unwilling to have her transferred to a facility which can perform Liver Dialysis (i.e. Jefferson University Hospitals and Sharp Coronado Hospital). We are raising funds to cover the cost of the protest for the life of my Beloved Wife, Duette Suzanne Bennett, and help with the costs of a transfer to a medical facility which has the expertise and willingness to treat her condition to full recovery.

In a similar Native American case, Delilah Saunders is fighting to change the rule that bans Ontario patients from being added to the list for liver transplants if they have not abstained from alcohol for six months. By any measure Delilah Saunders is a fighter. Indeed, the 26-year-old’s energetic activism for Indigenous women and human rights earned her Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award earlier this year. It’s a rule that was originally established because doctors believed long-term sobriety was a key indicator of whether a transplant would be successful in the long run. They preferred to give scarce livers to patients with what they thought was the best chance of success. However, the evidence is mounting that this is a policy based as much on moral judgment as on scientific evidence. And if that’s the case, it amounts to discrimination. In Ontario it starts with the Trillium Gift of Life Network, which co-ordinates organ donations in the province and implements those sobriety rules. It does so even though other health institutions in North America and Europe have deemed the requirement unnecessary for positive health outcomes. Indeed, three studies between 2008 and 2016 that reviewed liver transplant patients with alcohol disorders in the United States and Europe concluded that patients being sober for more than six months and staying sober afterward had only a minor effect on transplant success. At the same time, health and ethics experts say the criterion discriminates against disadvantaged people who you might expect to experience higher-than-average rates of alcohol abuse. That would apply to Indigenous people, who often suffer from addiction issues due to intergenerational traumas such as residential schools.
As Arthur Schafer, the founding director of the centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba told CBC Radio’s The Current: “The most disadvantaged people get doubly disadvantaged because we deny them life-saving transplants.” He compared the rule to denying someone life-saving treatment because they were hit by a car while jay-walking. (Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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