Ronald Reagan picture

Radio Address to the Nation on the International Monetary Fund and on Organ Donorship

July 23, 1983

My fellow Americans:

Before I get to the heart of my remarks today, I want to mention some important legislation currently before the Congress. I'm sure you're all aware of the difficulties some countries are having in meeting payments on their debts. Their problem touches all of us in a very real way and, indeed, poses a threat to the stability of the world financial order. For that reason, something called the International Monetary Fund was created some years ago. It's better known as the IMF, and that's how I'll refer to it.

Nations, including our own, contribute to IMF, and countries with temporary balance-of-payment problems borrow from it on a short-term basis. In order to get a loan, they have to agree to terms the Fund managers lay down with regard to correcting the practices and policies that contribute to their financial difficulties.

I've asked the Congress to approve an $8 1/2 billion contribution to the Fund. Some in the Congress and a great many citizens think this is a giveaway which will increase our deficit. The IMF is not foreign aid, and the $8 1/2 billion is not being given away. We will have additional drawing rights in that amount from the IMF. In fact, in its entire history, the two countries that have borrowed the greatest amounts from the Fund have been the United Kingdom and the United States. The sum we're asking Congress to approve does not increase our budget and is returned with interest as loans are repaid.

In addition, it creates jobs, because it keeps the wheels of world commerce turning. Exports account for one out of five manufacturing jobs in the United States. The IMF and its programs help keep Americans at work. This is important legislation for international economic stability, and I hope you'll support it.

But today, I want to speak only of—or not speak, I should say, of great national issues. Instead I'm taking to the airwaves in hopes we can save one little 11-month-old girl from Texas and many others like her. The young girl from Texas is Ashley Bailey, and all 11 pounds of her are in critical condition at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. She is now fed intravenously and has but 2 or 3 weeks to live unless she receives a liver transplant.

Back in May, Congressman Charlie Stenholm of Texas wrote me of the plight of this baby girl who must receive a transplant to survive. The surgery was estimated to cost $140,000. The Congressman said there'd been a tremendous outpouring of community and business support in the Abilene, Texas, area and about $75,000 already had been raised. A week or so after I received the letter, the Texas and Federal Medicaid programs contributed $82,000 toward the operation and medical expenses were no longer a problem for little Ashley. What she needed then, and needs now, is a donor. Time is running out. I'm issuing a plea to the Nation to find Ashley a donor.

Once one is found, an Air Force jet is standing ready in case immediate, commercial transportation is not available. Have a pencil ready; I'll give you a phone number in just a few seconds.

Right now, somewhere in America, there might be a pair of stunned and grief-stricken parents whose own baby has died in an accident or is sadly near death. I know if these parents were aware their baby could make it possible for Ashley to live, they would have no hesitation in saying, "Save that little girl."

I urge any of you who know of a possible liver donor for Ashley to call The Living Bank in Houston. The number is 800-5282971. I'll repeat the number: 800-5282971. Please call.

There are many other children like Ashley. We're looking for donors for them, as well. Right here in the White House we have an electrician, Stuart Thomas, whose daughter Candi—another 11-month-old girl—is waiting for a transplant. The helicopter squadron at Andrews Air Force Base is alerted to transport Candi and her mother to Pittsburgh as soon as a suitable liver is found.

In the last few days we lost little Courtney Davis from Beaumont, Texas, and Michelle Heckard from Shenandoah Heights, Pennsylvania, because we couldn't find livers to save their lives.

Nancy and I receive so many requests from families in need of organ donors that I directed the Surgeon General to conduct a conference on organ transplants. The major recommendation was to develop a public awareness program on organ donorship. This is underway, and I hope my broadcast today adds to the momentum. The project will stress education for doctors, State highway police, hospital officials, and others on the need to consider organ donorship when accidental death occurs.

America has faced shortage in the past of everything from nylons during World War II to oil in the 1970's. But modern medical science has provided us with a new shortage—a shortage of living organs: livers, hearts, lungs, eyes, kidneys. I urge all Americans to fill out donor cards, little cards you carry in your wallet or purse that, in the event of your death, offer the hope of life to others. You can obtain these cards by simply calling your local kidney, heart, or lung associations.

Americans are giving people. In many of the eases where these very expensive operations are essential, local citizens have raised money to help the families in need. I've already mentioned the community support given to Ashley. Well, not far from Washington, Morningside, Maryland, raised over $100,000 for the Goode family, whose little Nicky needs a transplant.

That kind of caring should make us all proud to be American. We can save more of our children and adults through organ donorship. Organ donors offer the greatest gift of all—the gift of life. Right now Ashley Bailey, as well as other desperately ill children, are waiting for that gift. Please help us find donors for these children.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President's remarks were taped at 10:30 a.m. at the White House for broadcast at 12:06 p.m.

Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on the International Monetary Fund and on Organ Donorship Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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