There are several factors doctors must consider when a patient needs a heart transplant. We would expect most of those considerations to be medical. For example, is the potentially donated heart a good match for the patient? Are there any other health problems that could complicate the transplant? It may not occur to readers that a teenage patient’s high school grades could be on his medical team’s checklist.
But a 15-year-old with a serious heart condition may not get a transplant because his doctors apparently believe he does not deserve one. They told the teen’s family that poor grades and legal trouble at least contributed to their decision not to give him a life-saving heart transplant.
The 15-year-old has an enlarged heart that he needs replaced to live. But doctors reportedly told him and his family that a history of “non-compliance” on his part is keeping him off the transplant list. Supposedly, the doctors believe that his performance in school and legal problems suggest that he would not take his medication or go to doctor appointments after getting a new heart.
This rejection could mean a “death sentence,” according to one observer. A family friend suggested that the hospital simply did not want to give the teenager a new heart and was using “non-compliance” as an excuse. Meanwhile, the patient is expected to be sent home soon after a month in the hospital.
Doctors are supposed to take reasonable measures to improve their patients’ health as much as possible. Failure to do so may be a form of medical malpractice, depending on the circumstances.
Source: ABC News, “Teenager Denied Heart Transplant Over History of ‘Noncompliance’ and Trouble With the Law,” Sydney Lupkin, Aug. 12, 2013