Transplants save lives? Sounds like front page news to me

by David Safier

This made page 20 in today's NY Times, which is fine, since it's a New York paper writing about Arizona. But for Arizona, it's a front page news story — or it should be.

The argument by Brewer, et al, that the transplants denied state funds don't work has been debunked. If Republicans simply want to say, "We're denying life saving operations because we won't fork over the few million a year it costs," fine. Let them defend that. But don't let them claim effective health care is worthless.

Last week, Brewer was on Fox once again — they love them some Jan Brewer over at Fox — repeating her line that 13 of 14 people who received bone marrow transplants in Arizona died. But whatever the origin of the figures, they don't give an accurate picture of survival rates.

The cure rate for bone marrow transplants cited in the report to the Legislature was either zero or 7 percent, depending on whether that unidentified 14th patient lived. But transplant experts put the actual survival rate, based on national studies, at over 40 percent.

I don't know about you, but a 40% survival rate sounds like a worthwhile investment in someone's life to me.

Dr. Jeffrey R. Schriber, medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, says bone marrow transplant survival rates among Medicaid recipients in Arizona are actually higher than the national average, more like 45%. Schriber has written to Brewer about this, so she can't claim ignorance.

Arizona papers need to run this controversy on the front page. If Brewer, et al, have been using cooked data to justify withholding health care, call them on it. Don't let them use phony justifications for refusing life-giving medical care.

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