C: GoFundMe & Heather Dawson via Facebook

Gravely ill unvaccinated father of two denied heart transplant by Boston hospital

A young father of two who has been rejected for a heart transplant at a US hospital because he has not been vaccinated for Covid-19.

DJ Ferguson, 31, who has not been vaccinated against Covid-19, urgently needs a new heart, but Boston Hospital has taken him off their list, his father David says. The hospital said it was ‘following policy’ when it removed the young father of two from their waiting list.

Ferguson’s wife, Heather Dawson, slammed the Boston hospital for taking her husband off the heart transplant list because the gravely ill man is unvaccinated. The family have been pushed into a ‘corner’ and ‘pressured’ to ‘choose a shot that could kill him,’ she says. Dawson believes that her husband is ‘high risk’ for the vaccine due to his swollen heart.

If he takes a Covid vaccine, “He is at extremely high risk of sudden death,” she c;aimed, writing that they feared his heart could swell. “We are literally in a corner right now. This is extremely time sensitive.”

“We’re being pressured to choose a shot that could kill him,” she added, whilst stating that the issue of whether or not to take a vaccine should be a matter of choice.

“This is not just a political issue. People need to have a choice.”

The Covid-19 vaccine goes against Ferguson’s basic principles, his father added.

Ferguson has a hereditary heart condition that causes his lungs and heart to fill with blood and fluid, and needs a life-saving organ transplant – which he is now being denied by the Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The hospital said it removed Ferguson from the donor waiting list because all transplant recipients must be vaccinated in order to ‘create both the best chance for successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation.’

The hospital added that the majority of the 100,000 people on waitlists for organ transplants will have to wait for five years because of a shortage of available organs.

A GoFundMe page has been set up as a relief and medical fund for the Fergusons by family friend, Amanda Brodeur. On Tuesday, she shared an update on DJ’s health.

“Mentally I am not ready to share this update with everyone as we are still trying to process and accept this. But I feel that it’s only fair to keep our friends and family in the loop considering the severity of this situation,” Brodeur said.

“After almost 50 days in the hospital with no answers, DJ was finally seen by some of the best cardiac specialists last week. After running countless tests and scans we learned that DJ is now in severe end stage heart failure, meaning that he is going to need a heart transplant to live.

“On top of the heart failure his heart is extremely swollen and dilated. Which puts him at high risk of cardiac arrest,” she said. “The bad news is that the transplant board will not actively list him due to his vaccination status.”

The Boston hospital has a list of protocols for transplant candidates that includes a ban on smoking and alcohol. It has said that requiring the Covid-19 vaccine is ‘common’ at many medical centres throughout the US.

“It’s a policy they are enforcing and so because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list of a heart transplant,” the patient’s despairing father told CBS Boston.

“My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,” he added.

Whilst Ferguson’s family is now considering transferring him to another hospital, his wife has said that he may be too weak to move.

“At this point DJ is unable to leave the hospital until he gets the heart surgery he needs. Without the surgery his lungs and heart will continue to fill up with blood and fluid (on top of everything else that’s going on),” she said on Facebook.

Ferguson isn’t the first patient to be denied a heart transplant due to their vaccination status. Back in October, a Colorado patient, Leilani Lutali, 56, was removed from a transplant list at a University of Colorado Health Hospital as she and her prospective kidney donor hadn’t gotten the Covid-19 jab.

The born-again Christian said she will not get vaccinated because of the use of fetal cell lines in developing some vaccines.

“As a Christian, I can’t support anything that has to do with abortion of babies, and the sanctity of life for me is precious,” Lutali said.

In November, the Irish Donor Network rejected the idea that vaccination status should affect a patient’s chance of receiving an organ transplant.

Philip Watt, chairman of the Irish Donor Network and Chief Executive of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, was was responding to the head of a US organ donor organisation who said not being vaccinated against Covid-19 impacts a person’s chance of getting a transplant.

“I cannot in good conscience transplant somebody with an organ that is a valuable scarce resource, knowing they are not vaccinated,” said Dorry Segev, director of the Epidemiology Research Programme in Organ Donation at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Watt said he did not agree with what he described as the “dogmatic” perspective of the US director.

“There is no directive in Ireland saying that if you are not vaccinated you will not get an organ donation,” Mr Watt said.

“But certainly there are a range of factors that come into play when people are being assessed for a transplant, and survivability is definitely one of them,” he added.

However, he maintained that not being jabbed for Covid should not be ‘a barrier’ to receiving a transplant.

“We would certainly not advocate that [not being vaccinated] should be a barrier to having a transplant. I think that would be unfair. But ultimately it is a clinical decision.”

A spokesman for Beaumont Hospital in Dublin told The Irish Times that a person awaiting a kidney transplant may have their operation deferred if a risk assessment concluded the risk to the patient was too high.

“No patient, regardless of vaccination status, will be or has been removed from the transplant list”, the spokesman said.

Earlier this year, reports speculated that clinicians in Beaumont had suggested that unvaccinated patients should be suspended from the waiting list for kidney transplants.

The hospital later released a statement saying no patient had been, or would be, taken off the list because they were unvaccinated for Covid-19. The hospital did however encourage all patients to “engage fully” with Covid protection measures.

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