A 31-year-old man in need of a heart transplant has been removed from the transplant list at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston because he has not been vaccinated for COVID-19, his parents said.
The hospital told CBS Boston that its policy is consistent with other transplant programs throughout the country that require the vaccine because it fits under the lifestyle behaviors of the candidates.
The statement said it is the hospital's goal to "create both the best chance for successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation."
DJ Ferguson was at the head of the line to receive a new heart but was removed because he refuses to take the vaccine, his father, David Ferguson, told CBS Boston.
"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," Ferguson said.
The younger Ferguson is the father of two children, with a third one on the way, the station reported.
The family praised the care DJ has been receiving at the hospital and said he is still there as they consider their options. It was not immediately clear why DJ needs a transplant.
In a legal battle in Minnesota, a judge issued a restraining order barring a hospital from turning off a COVID-19 patient’s respirator, Fox News reported earlier this month. The patient was subsequently transferred to a care facility in Texas.
Fox 9 reported that Scott Quiner, 55, died a week after arriving in Texas, having come down with the coronavirus around Halloween last year. The news outlet reported it did not have his medical records, but the family said he was unvaccinated.
Last October, a Colorado hospital system said it would deny organ transplants to unvaccinated patients "in almost all situations" under a new policy, according to the New York Post.
UCHealth, which operates hospitals and urgent care facilities throughout the state, said the mortality rate for transplant patients who get COVID-19 is more than 20%.
Vaccination is necessary for transplant patients because their immune system is basically turned off, Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine told CBS Boston.
"The flu could kill you; a cold could kill you; COVID could kill you,” Caplan told CBS. “The organs are scarce, [and] 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."
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