Colorado-based UCHealth said it is refusing organ transplants to unvaccinated patients in “almost all situations,” The Washington Post reports.
Republican state lawmaker Tim Geitner released a letter that he said was sent to a patient last week from the system’s transplant center informing her that she had 30 days to get vaccinated or she would be removed from the kidney transplant waiting list.
The patient, Leilani Lutali, told local reporters that she is “being coerced into making a decision that is one I’m not comfortable making right now in order to live.”
She said she was concerned about the health effects of the vaccines, even though their safety and efficacy has been shown repeatedly in large trials.
Lutali is reportedly looking out of state for possible options after failing to find a single hospital in Colorado that will perform a kidney transplant on an unvaccinated patient.
Hospital system defends:
UCHealth spokesman Dan Weaver told the Post that other transplant centers have similar policies or are enacting them soon.
He also noted that many transplant centers also require other vaccinations and other conditions like quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol, or take certain medications to ensure that organ transplants aren’t rejected.
“An organ transplant is a unique surgery that leads to a lifetime of specialized management to ensure an organ is not rejected, which can lead to serious complications, the need for a subsequent transplant surgery, or even death,” he said. “Physicians must consider the short- and long-term health risks for patients as they consider whether to recommend an organ transplant.”
Hospital cites unvaxxed risk:
"For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20% to more than 30%," UCHealth said in a statement to CBS Denver. "This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries."
“Patients may be required to receive vaccinations including hepatitis B, MMR and others,” a spokesman told The Denver Post. “Patients may also be required to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery.”