Casey Demands Answers from HHS On Transplant Policies

Senator Casey Sent Letter on Monday Pushing for Clarification on Rules, HHS Has Failed to Answer

Casey Specifically Asked Why Current Policy Can’t Be Suspended While Under Review

Washington, DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released a new letter to Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius demanding answers to his questions about the agency’s transplant policies. Earlier this week, Senator Casey wrote to HHS asking critical question about the department’s policies in order to ensure that current policy does not substantially disadvantage children under 12 from receiving an organ transplant. Secretary Sebelius has not yet provided answers to these vital questions.

“Given the dire health status of children across the country and the recent concerns raised about HHS policy, it’s critical that these questions be answered immediately,” Senator Casey said. “Under the circumstances, this delay is simply unacceptable. While I would never substitute my judgment for that of medical experts, it is imperative that we ensure that the current rules are giving these children, and others awaiting transplants, the best chance of survival."

The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be found below:

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

I write in follow-up to my letter dated June 3, 2013, in which I asked a series of questions regarding the allocation of donor lungs under current policy.  While I asked for an update by the end of the day on Wednesday (June 5), I have yet to receive a response.  I would appreciate an update as soon as possible.

To reiterate, my questions were as follows:

  1. There appears to be a disparity regarding the allocation of adult lungs between adult and pediatric candidates for transplantation, resulting in higher mortality rates for children.  Can you assure me that the current policy regarding lung allocation is not contributing to this disparity?
  2. In addition, what reason does the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network have for keeping children under 12 from being considered for any organ that would be an appropriate match?
  3. Given that you have agreed to review the policy as it applies to recipients under age 12 (a relatively small group), what is preventing HHS from suspending the current system while these policies are appropriately reviewed, studied and resolved?

I understand that these are highly charged issues, literally matters of life and death.  As an elected official, I cannot substitute my judgment for that of medical experts who perform and support life-saving organ transplants every day.  However, I believe it is necessary that the questions I have asked be answered in a full and fair manner, especially because they affect decisions regarding the allocation of lung transplants to children.

Thank you for your attention to this most important matter.  If you or your staff have any further questions about this matter, please contact my office.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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