New York Congressman Urges National Mesothelioma Registry

It’s been more than six years since Republican representative John Katko of New York first introduced the Mary Jo Lawyer-Spano Mesothelioma Patient Registry Act. Despite bipartisan sponsorship the bill has yet to pass, but that has not dampened the congressman’s dedication to the cause. This week he reintroduced the legislation with the help of U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado, the Democratic representative for New York’s 19th District.

Bill Inspired by Family That Lost Three to Mesothelioma

Katko’s proposed law would create a national registry of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma. It was inspired by the family of Charles Lawyer, a Syracuse resident who was exposed to asbestos during the years he worked for an elevator company. Not only did Lawyer die of the rare form of cancer but so did both of his daughters, Meg Meccariello and Mary Jo Lawyer-Spano, who were exposed to asbestos fibers that he carried home on his skin, hair, and clothing when they were children.

The bill was first crafted at the urging of Meg, the older of the two daughters and a former nurse who was frustrated by the lack of awareness of mesothelioma. When her sister was diagnosed with the disease, she found that medical professionals had little information available to them. When Mary Jo died in 2014, she and her mother Elizabeth Lawyer met with Katko in 2015 to ask for help establishing a registry that would help doctors share data on patient survival and treatment protocols. The bill named for Mary Jo has been reintroduced twice since then. Meccariello died of mesothelioma in 2015.

Mesothelioma Registry Would Collect Health Information to Assist Researchers

Speaking of his efforts, Representative Katko said, “I’m reintroducing a bill inspired by a Central New York native who lost her four-year battle with mesothelioma in 2014. Sadly, many Americans, including hundreds of 9/11 first responders, are still suffering from this terrible disease. By creating a national registry, my bill will help us take meaningful steps to understand, treat, and eventually cure mesothelioma.”

If passed into law, a registry would be established to collect information from mesothelioma patients who volunteer to participate. Their data would be used to:

  • Develop and revise standards of care and treatment for mesothelioma patients
  • Share evidence-based information between physicians across the United States
  • Implement benchmarks to improve care in mesothelioma clinics
  • Identify centers that provide the most beneficial care to patients.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at can help you access the resources you need. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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