A Colorado woman with stage 5 renal failure has been refused a kidney transplant at University of Colorado Hospital because she and her donor did not receive Covid-19 vaccines.
Leilani Lutali received a letter from the UCHealth Transplant Center near Denver, at the end of September, which stated she would be removed from the transplant list unless she begins the vaccine process within 30 days, media reports say.
No vaccine, No Organ Transplant
Colorado state Rep. Tim Geitner (R) also posted the letter on Twitter.
"The transplant team at University of Colorado Hospital has determined that it is necessary to place you inactive on the waiting list," the letter read. "You will be inactivated on the list for non-compliance by not receiving the Covid vaccine."
"Here I am, willing to be a direct donor to her. It does not affect any other patient on the transplant list," Jaimee Fougner, Lutali's kidney donor, told CBS4. "How can I sit here and allow them to murder my friend when I've got a perfectly good kidney and can save her life?"
In August, Lutali said the hospital told her that the vaccine would not be a prerequisite to get the surgery.
"At the end of August, they confirmed that there was no Covid shot needed at that time," Lutali told CBS4. "Fast forward to Sept. 28. That's when I found out. Jamie learned they have this policy around the Covid shot for both for the donor and the recipient."
Lutali said she has not taken the vaccine because there are too many unknowns. Her donor Fougner, who received the same letter from UCHealth, told the broadcaster she has not received the vaccine for religious reasons.
What was the Response of UCHealth?
A Colorado hospital system confirmed Tuesday that it is denying transplants to people who are not vaccinated against Covid-19 "in almost all situations," saying that the vaccine makes it more likely that a transplant will be successful, according to The Denver Post.
UCHealth spokesman Dan Weaver told The Washington Post that the mortality rate for transplant patients infected with Covid-19 ranges from 20% to more than 30%, much higher than the 1.6% fatality rate seen nationally from Covid-19.
"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 in an email, according to The Washington Post. "Physicians must consider the short- and long-term health risks for patients as they consider whether to recommend an organ transplant."
The women have said they are now looking for another hospital to perform the transplant but have yet to find one, reported Sky News.
Social Media Reactions
Some social media users are calling this incident as absolutely obscene, deplorable, and evil while others are suggesting the ladies to take the vaccine. One user wrote, "What happened to the oath that they take when they get their medical degree?"
Another said, "The question that needs to be answered is whether there is a difference in #COVID morbidity/mortality between those vaccinated before starting immunosuppression and those on immunosuppressives and unvaccinated. If no diff, then this is wildly unjust."
One user shared, "What happened to the left's screams of Healthcare is a human right?"
One comment read, "I'm sure covid will be listed as her cause of death if she passes. Praying she doesn't." Another comment read, "Quite logical and what all hospitals should do for transplants. Why give them lifesaving one-try transplants when they'll just wind up dying of covid?"