Health system has failed Maryland's transplant patientsIn...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 09, 1999

Health system has failed Maryland's transplant patients

In response to The Sun's editorial "Playing politics with life-saving organ transplants" (July 25), I'd note that it is Maryland's two transplant centers and the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO), which is supposed to oversee the transplant center's allocation of organs in Maryland, who have failed Marylanders awaiting life-saving kidney transplants.

They were given many warnings from the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) that they were overstepping their boundaries and given opportunities to pay back their kidney debt.

Many of their physicians are board members of UNOS, and serve on its various committees, so they had a chance to have a say on UNOS' sanctions.

We should keep in mind that, while a perfectly matched kidney is wonderful, with the medications available today other matches can work just as well.

Now is the time for the Transplant Resource Center, the University of Maryland Medical System and the Johns Hopkins Hospital to educate Marylanders on organ donation.

Now is also time for hospitals to take better care of the kidney transplant patients who have received organs and insure that they can get back to their lives.

Many of these people have not been given referrals for employment or care for the blind. Many have no muscle tone after years of kidney failure and diabetes and are so discriminated against in the work force that they find it better to collect disability than to seek employment.

The hospitals need to provide better treatment inside and outside their facilities and better follow-up care.

Judy LaSov, Baltimore

The writer is community outreach director for the Maryland Patient Advocacy Group Inc.

Generic drugs for poor protect our health, security

Molly Ivins didn't go far enough in chastising those who are blocking the sale of cheaper generic anti-AIDS drugs to Africans who can't afford those from the big drug companies ("We need a little public service from big drug companies," Opinion Commentary, July 21). This is not just a humanitarian issue, it is a national security issue.

HIV/AIDS is still killing Americans (and costing us billions of dollars a year) because of the lack of compassion we had for Africans 40 years ago.

HIV/AIDS apparently emerged from an African rainforest in the late 1940s or early 1950s. It worked its way into the African population for some 20 years before leaping to every other continent.

If we had been more interested in the health of Africans, we could have spotted this disease sooner and been further along in developing a vaccine or a cure.

HIV/AIDS wasn't the first disease to emerge from poverty and global chaos and it won't be the last. An airborne ebola virus could take out more people than a nuclear weapon.

The longer we avoid dealing with the HIV/AIDS virus anywhere in the world, the more likely it is to evolve into new and possibly airborne mutations.

Drug companies can pay now in lower profits, or Americans will pay deadly later in both lives and tax dollars.

Microbes don't distinguish income levels or nationalities. If we value security, we shouldn't either.

Chuck Woolery, Rockville

The writer is president of the Maryland Global Affairs Coalition.

Disabled access: a right that can benefit everyone

Access Maryland's July 28 rally in Fells Point to announce lawsuits against Bertha's Mussels and Cafe Hon, among other businesses, underscored the disability community's frustration over lack of access to places open to the public ("Restaurants among businesses targeted in campaign for access for the disabled," July 31).

Access is a basic civil right, not a privilege. Denying access to persons with disabilities is nothing less than segregation.

The rally also pointed out that businesses should look at accessibility as a way to increase revenue, not incur expense. It does not make sense for a store owner to deny a person the right to enter his store and spend money.

Many incentives are available to businesses to remove barriers, including tax credits and technical assistance. But it's frustrating that a business will spend thousands of dollars defending itself, just to keep people out of its store.

It is shameful that businesses have to be forced to obey a law that has proven, time and again, to benefit everyone.

Frank Pinter, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of MCIL Resources for Independent Inc.

Don't rush to blame guns for Atlanta shooting tragedy

Carole Fisher's letter "After another shooting, need to control guns is clear" (Aug. 1), shows that the hand-wringing about guns has started again.

The investigation of the Atlanta tragedy is not complete, yet people are already saying that more stringent gun control is the answer. Let's give the investigations a chance and then pass judgment.

Maybe we should spend more time understanding why Mark O'Barton snapped and less time blaming guns.

E. C. Cannon, Ellicott City

Ways to save water during the drought

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