After a man’s family claimed he was denied a new heart because he refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a Boston hospital is defending itself, claiming that most transplant programs around the country have identical protocols to boost patients’ chances of survival.
Officials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital notified D.J. Ferguson, a 31-year-old father of two, that he was ineligible for the treatment because he hadn’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to his family in a crowdfunding plea this week.
“Right now, we’re backed into a corner.” The family stated in its fundraising campaign, which has garnered tens of thousands of dollars, that “this is incredibly time urgent.” “This isn’t a just political problem. People must be able to choose!”
Tracey Ferguson, D.J.’s mother, claims that her kid isn’t anti-vaccine, adding that he’s gotten previous shots in the past. However, the trained nurse said on Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm that is irregular and often quick, and that he is concerned about the COVID-19 vaccine’s negative effects.
In a brief conversation at her home in Mendon, some 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of Boston, Tracey Ferguson said, “D.J. is an informed patient.” “He wants assurance from his physicians that this COVID vaccination will not make his illness worse or deadly.”
Patient privacy regulations prevented Brigham and Women’s Hospital from commenting on D.J. Ferguson’s case. However, it cited a comment on its website that stated that the COVID-19 vaccination is one of several immunizations recommended by most U.S. transplant programs, which also include a flu shot and hepatitis B vaccines.
The hospital stated that research has indicated that transplant recipients are at a greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than non-transplant patients, and that its practices are in line with the American Society of Transplantation and other health organizations’ guidelines.
Patients must also fulfill certain health and lifestyle requirements in order to receive donated organs, and it’s unclear if D.J. Ferguson did or would have satisfied these requirements.
Brigham & Womens Hospital further stated that no patient is placed on an organ waitlist until they match those requirements, and refuted Ferguson’s family’s allegation that a transplant candidate may be “first on the list” for an organ.
“There are presently over 100,000 patients on organ transplant waiting lists, and there is a lack of suitable organs,” the hospital stated. “Roughly half of those on waiting lists will not receive an organ within five years.”
Similar criticism has been leveled at hospitals in other states for refusing to perform transplants on individuals who had not been inoculated against COVID-19.
Last year, a woman with late-stage renal failure in Colorado claimed that her hospital rejected her a transplant because she was unvaccinated. Born-again Christian Leilani Lutali said she opposes immunization because of the role fetal cell lines play in the creation of some vaccines.
Because donor organs are in short supply, transplant clinics only put patients on the waiting list those doctors believe have the best chance of surviving with a new organ.
Dr. Howard Eisen, medical director of Penn State University’s advanced heart failure program in Hershey, Pennsylvania, said, “A donor heart is a precious and scarce gift that must be well cared for.” “Our objective is to maintain patient survival and favorable post-transplant outcomes.”
According to Anne Paschke, a spokesman for the United Network for Organ Sharing, which runs the country’s organ transplant system, the organization does not keep track of how many patients who refuse to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination have been rejected transplants.
Individuals who are rejected organ transplants have the right to seek treatment elsewhere, she added, however it is up to individual institutions to select which patients to put to the national waiting list.
D.J. Ferguson was sent to the hospital in late November for a cardiac condition that caused his lungs to fill with blood and fluid, according to the online fundraising. He was subsequently moved to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where surgeons implanted an emergency heart pump, which the family claims is simply a stopgap measure.
Tracey Ferguson described the situation as “devastating.” “No parent wants to watch their child go through such a thing.”