Karen Corby, a Pennsylvania woman, says that her autistic adult son, Paul Corby, was turned down for a heart transplant by the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania last year because of "psychiatric issues" and "autism," reports the NY Daily News.
When she got the decision, Karen Corby told ABC News: “I was numb at first."
Paul Corby was originally recommended for the transplant by his doctor because he was born with a heart disorder which makes it difficult to pump blood through his body.
He was diagnosed with the ailment in 2008 and referred to Penn Medicine in 2011 for a transplant.
However, in a letter, dated June 13, 2011, Dr. Susan Brozena of Penn Medicine, wrote: "I have recommended against transplant given his psychiatric issues, autism, the complexity of the process, multiple procedures and the unknown and unpredictable effect of steroids on behavior."
In a statement, Karen Corby said: "He just needs a fighting chance and the same rights to medical care as others his age. Autism is not a terminal disease and we cannot allow it to become one."
Karen Corby has started her own Change.org petition to get Paul's heart transplant and and has mailed Paul's records to the Mayo Clinic and to the University of Pittsburgh's hospital.
She told the Associated Press: "There has been a huge outpouring of support from Autism groups all over the country. I would not have found the strength to continue fighting had it not been for them."
University of Pennsylvania Health System said in a statement that "when individuals are referred for transplant consideration at Penn or any other certified transplant center, all aspects of their medical status would be reviewed."