Arizona is having an unfortunate week. First it was the terrorist attack in Tucson on Saturday. Now it’s the news that the first people who need organ transplants have died because the money for the surgeries was cut from the budget.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer cut the funding for transplants last year, at a cost savings of $1.4 million. Her remarks at the time: “bottom line is that the state only has so much money and we can only provide so many optional kinds of care, and those are one of the options that we had to take.”
Optional? Optional? Last I checked, heart, lung and liver transplants were vital to survival, unlike, say, plastic surgery. Enhanced breasts are an “option” but a healthy heart is not. I’d like to see someone tell Brewer that the liver she needs to survive is “optional.”
A politician who doesn’t even live in Arizona heard about the plight of 98 patients on the transplant list. Steven Daglas, an Illinois State GOP Central Committeeman, has come up with ways to fund the transplants without raising new revenue. He has submitted these plans to Brewer only to be greeted by silence.
I applaud Daglas’ efforts and hope Brewer realizes that people’s lives are more important than her political pride. It was unconscionable to cut that funding in the first place. We often decry cuts to favorite programs, but the issue isn’t usually a matter of life and death. In this case, it is.
Through events that were both within and beyond Brewer’s control, Arizona is not faring well in the media lately. It passed a highly controversial immigration law, cut funding for organ transplants and suffered a tragic terrorist attack. Brewer would do well to consider ways to restore her state’s standing in the country. It’s hard to imagine that the good publicity she would get from balancing the budget would outweigh the negative publicity generated from sentencing 98 innocent Arizonans to death.
This is an issue close to my heart. I have always been supportive of blood and organ donation, and have become more so in the past couple of years because my father needs a kidney transplant. I am grateful every day that he is able to cope because dialysis can do what his kidneys cannot. He is in the process of getting on the transplant list but it is not, at the moment, a life-or-death situation. I can only imagine how people who need lung or heart transplants and their families manage their diagnoses and the ticking clock that must always be on their minds. Dealing with the medical issues that make transplants necessary is stressful enough without being told your governor doesn’t care about your problems and is cutting off your chance at getting better and leading a healthy life.
I couldn’t find a direct e-mail address for Brewer, but you can submit a comment to her at this website, which also lists phone numbers for her office. Let her know your feelings on this actual “death panel.”