Paul Corby, a 23-year-old Pennsylvania resident with autism, was denied a heart transplant from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania because of claims by doctors that his disorder could cause “unpredictable effects[s]” during surgery.

According to The Washington Post, the hospital denied Corby the recommended transplant last summer. His mother, Karen Corby, started an online petition to raise awareness about what has happened to her son and to ask the hospital to reconsider its decision.

“He just needs a fighting chance and the same rights to medical care as others his age,” she said in a statement. “Autism is not a terminal disease, and we cannot allow it to become one.”

According to The Post, Dr. Susan Brozena wrote in June 2011 of Corby’s transplant: “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.”

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Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at

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