Cleveland Clinic announced it is now requiring both donors and transplant patients to be vaccinated for the Chinese coronavirus prior to undergoing the surgery, citing the “health and safety” of patients.
“Cleveland Clinic has recently developed safety protocols for solid organ transplantation that require COVID-19 vaccination to be an active transplant candidate or living donor,” the hospital system said in a statement:
Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety. For the living donor, preventing COVID-19 infection around the time of a surgical operation is crucial. For the transplant candidate, in addition to a major operation, medications taken after an organ transplant weaken a person's immune response. Serious complications of COVID-19 are most likely to develop in those individuals who have weakened immune systems, as their body has a reduced ability to fight and recover from infections. The FDA-authorized vaccines have been determined to be safe and effective and are the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19.
According to Cleveland, the clinic said it has “not removed anyone from the transplant wait list because he or she was not vaccinated” as of yet, but patients on the waiting list currently have until November 1 to get vaccinated.
Similarly, University Hospitals said its UH Transplant Institute will now require coronavirus vaccinations for its “patient population.” The statement reads:
The health and safety of our patients is a top priority for us at University Hospitals. In light of recent studies pointing to the risk solid organ recipients and living donors face if they contract COVID-19, the UH Transplant Institute will begin requiring COVID vaccinations for its patient population. We are following policies in this area already put into place at several other Ohio and national systems, and recommended by national transplant associations. Vaccination is particularly important in these patients for their safety. Transplant recipients are required to take medications to prevent organ rejection which weakens the immune system. For living donors, prevention of COVID around the time of surgery is essential. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19.
The news follows the controversial decision of Colorado's UCHealth, which is refusing transplants to people who are unvaccinated. It reportedly rejected Leilani Lutali, a woman suffering from stage five renal failure, because both she and her donor are unvaccinated.
As Breitbart News reported:
“At the end of August, they confirmed that there was no COVID shot needed at that time,” Lutali told CBS 4. “Fast forward to Sept. 28. That's when I found out. Jamiee learned they have this policy around the COVID shot for both for the donor and the recipient.”
Fougner has not received the vaccine citing religious beliefs, per CBS 4. At the same time, Lutali believes there are too many unknowns regarding the vaccine, and also informed CBS 4 that she had the virus and has earned natural immunity.
“I said I'll sign a medical waiver. I have to sign a waiver anyway for the transplant itself, releasing them from anything that could possibly go wrong,” Lutali said. “It's surgery, it's invasive. I sign a waiver for my life. I'm not sure why I can't sign a waiver for the COVID shot.”
“I feel coerced,” she expressed. “I feel like my life is being held in their hands in exchange for a shot, and the attitude is ‘just take the shot.'”