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Boston hospital refuses to give heart transplant to patient without COVID-19 vaccine

A US hospital has denied patient DJ Ferguson, 31, a heart transplant - at least in part because he hasn't been vaccinated against Covid-19. with the BBC.

Photo: Shutterstock

DJ Ferguson, 31, is in dire need of a new heart, but Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has removed him from their list, his father David said.

The hospital, in turn, said that they were following the rules.

“Given the scarcity of available organs, we are doing everything possible to ensure that the organ transplant patient has the best chance of survival,” the hospital said.

A spokesman for the hospital said they are requiring transplant candidates to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and maintain an appropriate lifestyle “to create the best chance for a successful operation, and to optimize the survival of transplant patients, given that their immune systems are severely suppressed.”

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The hospital's carefully worded statement may indicate that factors other than lack of vaccination may have been the reason for the patient's refusal, but they declined to discuss the details, citing confidentiality.

The hospital added that most of the 100 people on organ transplant waiting lists will not receive an organ within five years due to a shortage of available organs.

Ferguson has been in the hospital since November 26, 2021, suffering from a hereditary heart condition that causes his lungs to fill with blood and fluid, according to GoFundMe.

Fundraiser says Mr Ferguson is concerned he could develop heart inflammation - a potential side effect of the coronavirus vaccine that the CDC notes is rare and temporary - and that it could be dangerous given the weakness of his heart.

The CDC encourages transplant recipients and those in their immediate environment to receive full vaccinations and a booster dose.

Dr. Arthur Kaplan, head of medical ethics at New York University's Grossman School of Medicine, said that after any kind of organ transplant, the patient's immune system barely works, and even a common cold can be fatal.

“Organs are in short supply, we are not going to distribute them to those who have a low chance of surviving when others who are vaccinated have a better chance of surviving after surgery,” says Dr. Kaplan.

Mr Ferguson, who has two children and is expecting a third child, remains in the hospital, family members said. His family suggested that he was too weak to be transferred to another hospital and "his time is running out."

“My boy fights very bravely, he has integrity and principles that he really believes in, and this makes me respect him even more,” says David Ferguson.

“This is his body. It's his choice,” he adds.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

In recent weeks, this is not the first time that an unvaccinated American faces health care hurdles. Earlier this month, a Minnesota woman sued her local hospital after doctors tried to remove her unvaccinated man from a ventilator he had been hooked to for two months.

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