A Colorado health system has told a potential kidney transplant recipient that if she remains unaffected against the coronavirus, she will not receive an organ donation, a state lawmaker said this week.
Representative Tim Geitner, a Republican, said in a Facebook Live post on Tuesday that a local resident had received a letter from the service, UCHealth, saying that his status on the transplant waiting list had been changed to inactive.
“Unfortunately and sadly, UCHealth has stated that they will not be able to have this life-saving surgery until this person is ready to receive a COVID vaccine,” Mr. Geitner said.
Mr Geitner shared while posting on Twitter a letter from UCHealth to the patient in which “non-compliance” was cited. The 28 September letter advised the patient that he had 30 days to “start the vaccination series” and would be removed from the list if he did not do so.
UCHealth did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. But the health system told 9 News, a local television station, on Tuesday that organ transplant recipients and living donors were required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 “in almost all situations”.
Mr. Geitner said the patient had about 12 percent of his kidney function remaining and had found a donor.
UCHealth told the TV station that studies have shown that transplant recipients who later tested positive for COVID-19 had a mortality rate of 18 to 32 percent, compared with 1.6 percent of those who tested positive in the general population. .
The health system said its policy stemmed from that mortality rate and concerns that live donors could pass on the virus.
A spokesman for the hospital told The Denver Post that transplant patients were generally required to meet similar requirements before and after surgery, even before the pandemic. “Patients may need to receive vaccinations, including hepatitis B, MMR and others,” the spokesperson told the paper in an email. “Patients may also need to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove that they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery.”
The patient, Leilani Lutali, told the TV station that she had found out about the hospital’s policy because her donor was being tested. She said she was concerned about how the vaccines might affect her health in the future, and that she and her donor had declined them for religious reasons.
“I am being forced to make a decision that I am just not comfortable with living in,” said Ms. Lutali.