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RETARDATION USED TO DENY TRANSPLANT

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A woman with Down syndrome has been turned down for a heart-lung transplant at two hospitals on the grounds she doesn't have the intelligence to deal with the follow-up care and any complications.

Hospitals at Stanford University and the University of California at San Diego rejected 34-year-old Sandra Jensen earlier this year.Dr. William Bronston, a state rehabilitation administrator, said the hospitals violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

"She is grave. She's not well. She's taking a lot of medicine, but she is totally lucid," Bronston said. "She understands because she has Down syndrome she's not seen as an ordinary human being, and she understands the reality that ties the doctors' hands somewhat."

Officials involved in the case say Jensen may be the first person with significant mental retardation who has requested such a transplant.

"I don't recall it ever surfacing as a subject of debate," said Esther Benenson of United Network of Organ Sharing, a national organization overseeing transplant issues.

Jensen's cardiologist, Dr. Philip Bach, who has been treating her heart problems with various drugs, recommended the heart-lung trans-plant because her organs are failing.

Jensen lives on her own, graduated from high school and has worked busing tables at the state Capitol cafeteria. She is involved in a Sacramento group that works for the rights of the disabled.