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Congress Reintroduces Legislation To Prevent Organ Transplant Discrimination
Washington, D.C. (April 21, 2023) – The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, applauds the reintroduction of the Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act (H.R. 2706/S. 1183) in the United States House of Representatives and Senate. The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in cases of organ transplants and provide recourse to individuals who feel they have been discriminated against.
The bill was introduced in the 117th Congress to build upon existing civil rights protections in the Americans with Disabilities Act, Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. This week, Representatives Kat Cammack (R – FL) and Debbie Dingell (D – MI) and Senators Marco Rubio (R – FL) and Maggie Hassan (D – NH) reintroduced the bill in the 118th Congress.
The bill is named for Charlotte Woodward, an adult with Down syndrome and member of the NDSS staff who received a life-saving heart transplant almost ten years ago. Since then, she has advocated tirelessly to ensure people with Down syndrome and other disabilities get the same chance that she did.
“As someone with Down syndrome who has had the opportunity to receive a life-saving heart transplant, I am so very grateful that this bill will give others the same opportunity,” said Charlotte Woodward. “Too many precious lives have been lost due to discrimination in organ transplantation. I am so very, very thankful for the generosity of my heart donor and that of her loving family. Her gift has allowed me to live my life to the fullest and to go on to advocate for others to be able to do the same. The passage of this bill will be a monumental step towards a more just world, and I am proud to play a part in it.”
NDSS has advocated for protection against organ transplant discrimination at the state and federal level for many years. Thirty-seven states currently have organ transplant discrimination prevention laws, however, the Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act would extend these protections to all and ensure uniformity in protections from state to state.
“NDSS is thrilled to see the Charlotte Woodward Organ Transplant Discrimination Prevention Act reintroduced,” says NDSS President & CEO, Kandi Pickard. “The passage of this act will not only save countless lives, but it sends a strong message that the discrimination of people with disabilities, especially in the organ transplant process, will not be tolerated. Thank you to Senators Marco Rubio and Maggie Hassan and Representatives Cammack and Dingell for their work on this bill and for recognizing the incredible value people with Down syndrome bring to society.”
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS empowers individuals with Down syndrome and their families by providing resources, driving policy change, engaging with local communities, and shaping public perceptions. Founded in 1979, NDSS supports and advocates for the Down syndrome community by focusing on three key areas of programming: Resources & Support, Policy & Advocacy and Community Engagement. Within these focus areas NDSS engages in various activities, events, and programs on topics that are critical to our community such as federal and state advocacy and public policy, health and wellness, education, and employment. NDSS creates resources to support individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and caregivers across the lifespan and hosts community events throughout the country including the National Buddy Walk® Program, the Times Square Video presentation and New York City Buddy Walk®, Racing for 3.21 for World Down Syndrome Day, Run for 3.21, and various other events. Visit www.ndss.org for more information.