The Miami Herald reports:
A disabled foster child whose liver is failing has been removed from a Central Florida hospital's organ-transplant waiting list because hospital administrators fear the state's shaky child-welfare system cannot ensure he has a permanent home in which to recover.
Shands Hospital in Gainesville removed the boy, 15, from a waiting list for organ recipients after administrators determined the boy's unstable living conditions make him a poor candidate for a transplant, said Nick Cox, the Department of Children & Families regional administrator in the Tampa Bay area, where the boy lives.
The state's next move: appeal to Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, which DCF officials hope will put the teen on its transplant wait list.
Shands administrators told DCF chiefs they had serious concerns that the boy might not be in a safe, permanent home for the two years necessary to ensure his body does not reject the new liver, Cox said. The hospital, he said, "had a big concern about post-placement permanency."
The Miami Herald report continues:
The boy has had a difficult life, even for a foster child.
Removed from his mother at infancy because she could not kick a crack cocaine habit, the teen had been living with relatives under DCF supervision until about a year ago, when his relatives were unable to continue caring for him. Since then, he has been in foster care in the Tampa Bay area.
He has been diagnosed with a developmental disability and often has difficulty controlling his behavior. DCF tried to arrange for him to live in a medical foster home in Gainesville so he could be near the hospital during the lengthy recovery process, but child-welfare workers were unable to find a specially trained home that would accept him.
DCF caseworkers are also trying to get the boy services from the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Cox said, but APD rejected his application because the agency has a waiting list with more than 15,000 Floridians seeking care.
"This child has spent his entire life in a struggle," Cox said. "And the system doesn't always help him. This is one of his ultimate struggles."
Cox said the state expects to hear from JMH shortly. If the hospital agrees to put him on the transplant wait list, DCF will have to fly him to Miami, where he will stay at the Ronald McDonald House near the hospital for a battery of medical tests over two or three days.
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