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Beaumont hospital to “suspend” unvaccinated from organ transplant waiting list

Update: A new statement from Beaumont Hospital states that the hospital has now decided to reverse this policy. A spokesperson for the hospital told Gript that “No patient, regardless of vaccination status, will be or has been removed from the transplant list.” They did add, however, that “risk assessment may result in deferral of transplant surgery if the risk to the person is considered too high at that time because of inability to engage with protective measures or for any other reason.”

A leaked document from Beaumont Hospital has revealed that senior staff at the Hospital have advised consultants to suspend unvaccinated patients, regardless of the reason those patients are unvaccinated, from the kidney transplant waiting list. This will mean that those who are unvaccinated, even those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical issues or concerns, will be unable to undergo transplantation, a procedure which is potentially lifesaving.

The new policy is outlined in a letter which was sent by senior staff within Beaumont to consultant nephrologists.

The letter, which Gript have confirmed the authenticity of, was written on the 3rd of August by Miss Dilly Little, Surgical Director of the National Kidney Transplant Service, and Dr Colm Magee, Clinical Director of the TUN Directorate at Beaumont Hospital. The letter was first highlighted by anti-lockdown campaigner Tracey O’Mahony.

The letter requests that consultant nephrologists provide the hospital with a “list of patients who are on the transplant waiting list who are currently not vaccinated.” The letter goes on to say “if your patient cannot be vaccinated, for whatever reason, we would recommend that they be suspended from the waiting list with immediate effect until the COVID crisis has passed.” This, the letter says, is to be done as it is felt that “the risk of transmission, particularly of new COVID variants” means “it will not be possible to continue to offer transplantation for unvaccinated recipients.”

Whilst the high levels of vaccination amongst the public mean that this new policy is likely to impact upon a limited number of people, it would appear clear that the impact it will have on each of those people could be devastating. With the Taoiseach today confirming that COVID restrictions will remain in place until at least Q2 2022, and the letter’s recommendation that this policy continue until “the COVID crisis has passed,” patients could be suspended from the waiting list effectively indefinitely.

A spokesperson for Beaumont hospital told Gript that “In order to protect all immunosuppressed transplant patients from COVID-19 to the greatest degree practical, it is expected that all individuals, engage fully with available measures to protect themselves from acquiring COVID-19 and thus to minimise the risk of exposing themselves or other transplant recipients to COVID-19.”

The spokesperson told us that “In the circumstances that a transplant candidate is unable to participate in COVID-19 infection prevention measures, they will remain active on the transplant program,” and that “in the event of a donation episode” a “risk/benefit assessment will be completed to determine whether a safe and successful transplant can be undertaken in all the circumstances.” This assessment “may result in deferral of transplant surgery if the risk to the person is considered too high at that time.”

We have asked the hospital to explain the variance between that statement and the terms of the letter, which simply states that those who are unvaccinated, “for whatever reason”, are to be suspended from the transplant waiting list en masse. We have also asked the hospital what measures, if any, have been put in place to ensure that those patients who are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons are not adversely impacted.

 

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