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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – In a dispute between two public-hospital districts, an administrative law judge has ruled that the South Broward Hospital District should get approval to open kidney-transplant programs for children and adults.

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The 51-page ruling, by Judge W. David Watkins, backed a decision last year by the state Agency for Health Care Administration and rebuffed competing transplant-program proposals from the North Broward Hospital District.

The case involved approving certificates of need, a key step in building hospitals or adding programs.

The South Broward district sought approval to add a pediatric kidney-transplant program at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and an adult kidney-transplant program at Memorial Regional Hospital. The North Broward district offered competing proposals at Chris Evert Children’s Hospital and Broward Health Medical Center.

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The North Broward district filed challenges last year after the Agency for Health Care Administration gave preliminary approval to the South Broward proposals.

Watkins wrote a detailed analysis of the applications and issued a recommended order that sets that stage for the agency to give final approval to the South Broward proposals.

“On balance, Memorial’s applications better satisfy the established need for one pediatric and one adult kidney transplantation program than Broward Health’s,” Watkins wrote.

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The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.