At each step of the organ transplantation process, significant disparities exist for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). While some jurisdictions have attempted to stop this discrimination, patients with IDD remain underserved, experiencing reduced access to care and poor health outcomes. Many physicians lack the expertise to determine accurate patient outcomes and are prone to define IDD as a contraindication for transplantation.
In this study, we identify five systematic flaws which encourage discrimination against patients with IDD. In response, we recommend solutions that can be implemented at federal, state, and institutional levels to: (1) improve physician-patient interactions, (2) debunk false assumptions garnered by physicians about the patient population, (3) encourage equitable treatment opportunities for patients, (4) incite better transparency in the patient evaluation process, and (5) foster a sustainable system of donated resources.
Despite empirically similar post-transplantation survival rates between individuals with and without IDD, organ transplantation is not equitably opportune. Physicians can better fulfill their duty to equitably serve their patients through compassionate care and proper education on medical outcomes. Nondiscrimination policies should be adopted at federal, state, and institutional levels to improve access and outcomes for patients with IDD, particularly those in need of organ transplants.