On Tuesday, the University of Colorado’s hospital system declared that it will no longer allow organ transplants for patients who have not yet received the coronavirus vaccine, as reported by The Daily Caller.
The decision was made after it was revealed that patient Leilani Lutali, who is currently on the system’s kidney transplant list, has not been vaccinated. Her would-be donor, Jamie Fougner, is also unvaccinated.
“In almost all situations,” UCHealth said in a statement, “transplant recipients and living donors at UCHealth are now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to meeting other health requirements and receiving additional vaccinations. Some U.S. transplant centers already have this requirement in place, and others are making this change in policy now.”
However, both Lutali and Fougner, who met in the same Bible study group, have said that they have received religious exemptions from taking the vaccine.
“Both from a religious standpoint, and from doing some reading, I’m not certain that this is the right way to go,” said Lutali. “I feel like I’m being coerced into not being able to wait and see, and that I have to take the shot if I want this life-saving transplant.”
Fougner did not mince words in her statement on UCHealth’s decision. “We’re talking about compromising my morals, for her right to have a surgery,” Fougner said. “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 a letter sent to Lutali by UCHealth, the hospital ordered her “to begin the vaccination series” within 30 days. Otherwise, if she refuses to get the vaccine, she “will be removed from the kidney transplant list.”
UCHealth gave a public statement justifying its controversial decision, claiming that “patients who have received a transplanted organ are at significant risk from COVID-19,” and then asserting, without evidence, that “a living donor could pass COVID-19 infection on to an organ recipient even if they initially test negative for the disease, putting the patient’s life at risk.”
Lutali, who is in danger of facing stage 5 renal failure, has been looking into other hospitals in the state of Colorado that will not force them to get the vaccine, with no success. They are also considering hospitals in other states where vaccine mandates have not been implemented.