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Public Statements

HIV Organ Policy Equity Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. NORTON. I thank my good friend from California, and I thank all of the bipartisan leaders of this bill, especially Mrs. Capps, who has made health care a signature issue for herself ever since coming to the Congress.

Mr. Speaker, we haven't found our way out of one of the great disparities in medical science: the difference between the 100,000 patients seeking organ transplants and the mere 30,000 who get such transplants annually. The HOPE Act provides a possible breakthrough, one that I don't think we can refuse. It is a breakthrough for many whose condition would make them hopeless in waiting for an organ transplant.

The regular reviews to evaluate medical research that are mandated by this bill could allow transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients if the procedure--and this is important; the safeguards are tightly woven into this bill--if the procedure is shown to be both safe and effective. No wonder the Boxer-Coburn HOPE Act was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate.

The wholesale ban in 1988 did not even allow research on HIV-infected organs. I am not sure I understand that since in this country we usually do not take research out of the picture.

Today, medical science has come a long way, allowing many to live with HIV. We save many lives but then lose them to chronic conditions such as kidney and liver damage, often caused by the very HIV medications that have saved their lives. If they go on dialysis, there is virtually no hope for a transplant today.

The way out of this conundrum is the way we have understood since the Enlightenment: ``Look for the evidence.'' Who can know where the science will take us or whether it will take us anywhere? With estimates of as many as another 600 organ donors who could be helpful annually, who would not want to try to find if this could be accomplished?

Again, I thank the sponsors of this bill, which I think is rightfully named the HOPE Act.

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