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Children's Hospital of Philadelphia apologizes to Rivera family over kidney transplant flap

amelia rivera, kidney transplant

(CBS) The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has apologized to the family of Amelia Rivera, the girl whose family alleged she was denied a life-saving kidney transplant because she was disabled.

PICTURES: Amelia Rivera, 3, in struggle for kidney transplant over disability

"As an organization, we regret that we communicated in a manner that did not clearly reflect our policies or intent and apologize for the Riveras' experience," the hospital said in a joint statement with the family on the CHOP Facebook page.

The controversy stemmed from a blog post Amelia's mom Chrissy wrote in January, in which she said her and her husband met with a doctor and a social worker who told her that the 3-year-old should not have the transplant done because she is "mentally retarded" and would not be able to get on a transplant waiting list, HealthPop reported. Amelia was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic condition that affects about one in 50,000 children that causes delayed growth and development, intellectual disability, and seizures.

"I said, so you're saying in six months to a year when her kidneys fail you want us to let her die? And he said yes," Rivera told CBS Philadelphia at the time.

The hospital currently denies that it disqualified Amelia based on any intellectual disability, but says it will conduct a review of its process to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. It also emphasized no decision has been made on Amelia's case.

"While we can unequivocally state that we do not disqualify transplant patients on the basis of intellectual ability, and have a history of transplanting children that have a wide range of disabilities, this event underscores the importance of our responsibility to effectively communicate with families," the hospital said.

The family says it still holds the hospital in high regard, and hopes their experience can serve as a lesson.

"Despite an unfortunate encounter a few weeks ago, we hold The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in high regard," Joe and Chrissy Rivera said in the statement. "Our hope is that this experience will heighten the medical community's sensitivity to and support for the disabilities community."

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