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Veteran Denied Liver Transplant: files law suit
  April 28, 2004
Associated Press
New York-based Lambda Legal, which advocates for the rightsof homosexuals and those with HIV/AIDS, said Tuesday it had fileda complaint with the Veterans Medical Center in Iowa City onbehalf of Gideon Green, an Illinois veteran. Green, 57, has end-stage liver disease. He said doctors have told him his onlytreatment option is a liver transplant, but the facility will notconsider him for the procedure because he is HIV-positive.
It is the policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs not toperform transplants on patients with HIV, said spokesperson JoSchuda. While that policy is under review in the light of researchsuggesting that HIV-positive patients may have greater transplantsuccess than previously thought, no change is expected soon. Atpresent, Veterans Administration doctors can only do preliminaryreviews of medical histories in case the ban is lifted, she said.
Green, an electrician who served on aircraft carriers duringthe Vietnam War, wants to be evaluated to see if he is a suitablecandidate for a new liver. Dr. John Cowdery, the acting chief ofstaff at the Iowa City facility, said doctors would begin apretransplant evaluation on Green. However, according to Schuda,this could not lead to a transplant unless the policy is changed.
Cowdery said Green's case was being reconsidered beforeLambda Legal's involvement. Nationwide, VA hospitals serve morethan 20,000 veterans with HIV. Lambda has also written to nationalVA officials about crafting a policy requiring VA hospitals toevaluate HIV patients as organ recipients.
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