Story at a glance
- At two different hospitals, two men were removed from waiting lists for organ transplants.
- This has happened previously during the pandemic.
- The society for transplantation recommends all transplant candidates get all recommended vaccinations, including for the coronavirus.
Hospitals are denying organ transplants to people who are unvaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Last week, a man was denied a heart transplant as a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. This week, a man in North Carolina was turned down for a kidney transplant because he refused to receive a coronavirus vaccination.
“There is not a situation in this world that I’ll get a vaccine,” he told The Washington Post. “If I’m laying on my deathbed, and they tell me, ‘You have a kidney waiting on you if you get this shot,’ I’ll tell them, ‘I’ll see you on the other side.’”
Brigham and Women’s Hospital dropped the heart transplant patient from the waitlist.
“Given the shortage of available organs, we do everything we can to ensure that a patient who receives a transplanted organ has the greatest chance of survival,” the hospital said in a statement. They have more than 100,000 patients on waitlists, and about half will not receive an organ in the next five years, according to the statement.
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Other hospitals have made similar moves, such as the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Colorado Hospital. In the case of the North Carolina man, the hospital Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist followed vaccine policy and said in a statement, “We understand that some patients may not wish to be vaccinated. In this case, patients can opt to be evaluated at another transplant center,” according to the Washington Post.
The American Society of Transplantation Infectious Diseases Community of Practice recommend that “all transplant candidates and their household members should have completed the full complement of recommended vaccinations,” and that includes for COVID-19 in a joint statement with other transplant organizations.
Evaluation for an organ transplant depends on the patient’s condition and susceptibility to infection. Hospitals want to ensure that transplant recipients have the highest likelihood of surviving and thriving post-transplant.
“The entire transplant evaluation process, which can be very long and very demanding, is about making sure patients are in the best physical, mental, and social condition to endure a transplant, and then all the downstream effects of transplantation,” said Olivia Kates, who is a Johns Hopkins infectious diseases physician specializing in transplant patients, according to STAT.
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