A 31-year-old father who was prioritized for a heart transplant is no longer eligible to receive the life-saving operation because he refuses to get a Covid-19 vaccination.
DJ Ferguson, a father of two with a third on the way, had been at the front of the line to receive a heart transplant. But upon learning that he had not been vaccinated against Covid-19, the Boston-area hospital where he was going to receive the transplant decided he was no longer eligible.
‘My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,’ his father David Ferguson told CBS in Boston.
David says his son still refuses to receive the shot.
‘It’s kind of against his basic principals – he doesn’t believe in it,’ his father said. ‘It’s a policy they are enforcing and so, because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list [for] a heart transplant.’
The hospital that was going to do the operation, Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, released a statement saying their protocols align with many other transplant programs across the country, and that the Covid-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines that are required in order to ensure a successful operation.
While DJ remains at the hospital, his family says they are uncertain what to do moving forward.
‘We are aggressively pursuing all options, but we are running out of time,’ David said.
They’ve been happy with the care he has received but stand by his decision about the vaccine. They also say they are considering transferring him, but fear he may be too weak for the move.
‘I think my boy is fighting pretty damn courageously and he has integrity and principles he really believes in and that makes me respect him all the more,’ David said, adding ‘It’s his body. It’s his choice.’
Other medical experts have sided with the hospitals policy, including Dr Athur Caplan, the head of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
‘Post any transplant, kidney, heart whatever, your immune system is shut off,’ Caplan told CBS. ‘The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you. The organs are scarce, we are not going to distribute them to someone who has a poor chance of living when others who are vaccinated have a better chance post-surgery of surviving.’
DJ’s case isn’t the first time a sick patient was denied an organ transplant because they were unvaccinated.
Leilani Lutali, who has stage 5 renal failure, was denied a transplant at UCHealth in Colorado because the facility had a policy that most transplant recipients and living donors must be vaccinated.
The same occurred in Ohio, where a woman was denied a life-saving transplant for her stage 4 liver disease because she refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
In October, the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio turned Michelle Vitullo away. Vitullo had been receiving treatment for her ailment at the clinic since 2019, but was told that without the vaccine, the surgery would greatly weaken her immune system.
Vitullo and her family still refused to receive the vaccine, despite being presented with the opportunity to receive the surgery.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at email@example.com.
For more stories like this, check our news page.