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Man With Low IQ Gets Heart Transplant After All

June 21, 1995

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ A man with an IQ of 73 got a heart transplant Tuesday despite the state’s refusing to give him the necessary follow-up care because it doesn’t consider him mentally retarded.

Thomas Talbot, 22, who has a congenital heart condition, underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

His lawyer, Joanne Petito, said he was in surgery for about five hours and doctors told her everything went well.

Petito had feared the hospital would reject Talbot as a transplant patient unless the state agreed to help with day-to-day tasks after the transplant: making and keeping doctor’s appointments, taking his medicine and making sure he gets other help he needs.

Neither his family nor the agency that helps him live by himself are equipped to undertake such tasks, Petito said.

Once he is released from the hospital, she said, Talbot probably will need the care of a state case worker for about five hours a week for an indefinite period.

While the transplant was covered by Medicaid, Petito doesn’t think Medicaid will pay for the day-to-day services.

But Marylou Sudders, acting state mental health director, said Medicaid might cover his needs after all.

A spokeswoman at Children’s Hospital declined comment on why hospital officials decided to operate without the guarantee New Hampshire would foot the bill.

The state decided Talbot doesn’t qualify for after-care because he doesn’t meet its definitions for mental retardation or disability.

Though his IQ indicates borderline mental retardation, the state has said Talbot is too smart to qualify, and says IQ is only one of several factors determining eligibility.

Talbot has scored lower than 73 on previous IQ tests and was in special education classes for much of his schooling, Petito said.

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