Wednesday, November 17, 2010
NPR's Ted Robbins talks to the people who are not going to get life-saving transplants as a result of Arizona budget cuts:
Randy Shepherd is 36 and 6-foot-3, but he has to toss baseballs to his 3-year-old son, Nathan, while sitting in a lawn chair. Shepherd has cardiomyopathy; his heart muscle is deteriorating. The condition is the result of rheumatic fever he had as a child. As a teenager, he had his heart valves replaced, but that was 20 years ago.
"The muscle's gotten tired and distended," Shepherd says. "It's just worn out."
You can hear the weakness in his voice, even though doctors implanted a pacemaker in 2008. They've told Shepherd that he needs a heart transplant to survive.
But as of Oct. 1, AHCCCS said it is unable to pay for Shepherd's transplant. In fact, facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit, Arizona has cut out all state-funded lung transplants, some bone-marrow transplants and some heart transplants — including transplants for the condition Shepherd has.
"To basically renege on what you promised was [going to] be a chance at life is a very, very bitter indictment of the ethics of the Legislature," says Arthur Caplan, head of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
Read—or listen to—the whole thing here.