Hospitals Pull Unvaccinated COVID Patients Off Organ Donation Waiting Lists

"I'll die free," an unvaccinated North Carolina man boasted after he lost his eligibility for a kidney donation.

Hospitals are yanking people off waiting lists for donated organs if they refuse to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations.

According to officials, the hospitals are following standards set by transplant organizations to give available organs to those with the best chances of survival. The American Society of Transplantation recommends that “all transplant candidates and their household members should have completed the full complement of recommended vaccinations,” including vaccines for COVID-19.

I will die free,” North Carolina resident Chad Carswell, 38, told Charlotte’s WSOC-TV last week after losing his chance at a kidney transplant at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem.

“There is not a situation in this world that I’ll get a vaccine,” he told The Washington Post. “If I’m laying on my deathbed, and they tell me, ‘You have a kidney waiting on you if you get this shot,’ I’ll tell them, ’I’ll see you on the other side.’

Carswell did not reveal why he refused to get the vaccine, other than: “I was born free.”

He’s still receiving dialysis three times a week, but that’s only a temporary solution.

“I have to have a kidney to prolong my life,” he said.

Hospital officials said the policy “follows the current standard of care in the United States, which is to vaccinate all patients on waiting lists or being evaluated for transplant.”

Last week, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston came under fire after denying a heart transplant to D.J. Ferguson, a 31-year-old father who refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Ferguson’s dad said that getting the vaccine was “kinda against his [son’s] basic principles,” reported CBS-TV Boston affiliate WBZ. His mom said he’s concerned about side effects, like “blood clots.”

“Whatever the risks associated with the shot, they’re lower than for COVID,” Dr. Art Caplan, head of medical ethics at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, told NBC News. “What you want to do is prevent COVID.”

Caplan also said that with the scarcity of available hearts, it’s common policy to require all vaccines, including COVID vaccinations, for transplant patients to give them the best chance of survival.

After the uproar, the Brigham hospital system issued a statement emphasizing the shortage of donated organs and long waiting lists.

“Like many other transplant programs in the United States, the COVID-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines and lifestyle behaviors required for transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system in order to create both the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation,” the statement added.

Check out D.J. Ferguson’s story in the NBC News video clip above.

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