U.S. woman refused kidney transplant until she gets COVID-19 vaccine

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When a Colorado woman learns her hospital won’t approve her kidney transplant surgery until she finds a COVID-19 vaccine, it goes against her religious beliefs to meet her health needs. Left with a difficult decision.

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Leilani Lutali, a newly born Christian, went with her faith.

Even though she has stage 5 kidney disease, which puts her at risk of dying without a new kidney, Lutali, 56, said she may not agree to the vaccination because of stem cells’ role in vaccine development.

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“As a Christian, I cannot support anything that has anything to do with abortion of children, and to me the sanctity of life is priceless,” she said.

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Spokesman Dan Weaver said UCHealth requires transplant recipients to be vaccinated because recipients are at significant risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as being hospitalized and dying from the virus. Unaffiliated donors can also pass on COVID-19 to recipients even if they initially test negative for the disease, he said.

“Studies have found that transplant patients who contract COVID-19 can have a mortality rate of 20% or more,” he said.

It is not clear how common this type of policy is.

The American Hospital Association, which represents about 5,000 hospitals, health care systems and networks in the United States, said it does not have data to share on the issue. But it said many transplant programs insist that patients be vaccinated for COVID-19 because of the weakened state of their immune systems.

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While any type of surgery can put a strain on a patient’s immune system and make them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 later, organ transplant recipients are at an even greater risk because they have to maintain their bodies. One has to take a potent regime of drugs to suppress their immune system. Rejecting the new organ, which is viewed by the body as a foreign object, Nancy Foster, AHA’s vice president for quality and patient safety policy, said in a statement.

“In addition, if patients have to wait until after surgery to receive their vaccine, it is unlikely that their immune system can mount the desired antibody response, because they are taking anti-rejection drugs, ” He said.

According to news reports, transplant centers in Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Alabama have policies that require the recipient to be vaccinated.

The Cleveland Clinic recently decided to require COVID-19 vaccination for both transplant recipients and living donors, the organization said in a statement.

Some health care systems recommend or strongly encourage vaccination for transplants, including Mayo Clinic and Centara Healthcare, two of the nation’s largest. The University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine Transplant Program only recommends that live donors receive a vaccine, but does not require it for the donation process.

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The best time to get the COVID-19 vaccine is before an organ transplant. If time permits, patients should receive the second dose of available vaccines at least two weeks before transplant “so that your body has a good immune response to the vaccine,” said Dr. Deepali Kumar, president of the American Society of Transplantation. . -Election and an infectious disease doctor.

Many major religious denominations have no objection to COVID-19 vaccines. But the rollout has prompted heated debate because of the long-standing role that cell lines derived from fetal tissue play, directly or indirectly, in the research and development of various vaccines and drugs — including common over-the-counter drugs. Are included like tylenol.

Roman Catholic leaders in New Orleans and St. Louis called Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot “morally compromised.” J&J has insisted that its vaccine does not contain fetal tissue.

In addition, the Vatican’s doctrine office has said it is “ethically acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines that are based on research that uses cells obtained from aborted fetuses. Pope Francis himself has said that not getting shot would be “suicide”, and he has been fully vaccinated with Pfizer formula.

Ethical considerations should take into account both individual and societal perspectives, Dr Kumar said.

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“It’s really best for the patient at this point in time and also from a social point of view,” she said. “The more patients who get vaccinated, you know, the better outcomes we have.”

As for Lutali, a recruiter for tech companies, it seems his hospital was so insistent on protecting him from COVID-19 that it’s willing to stop his transplant surgery and let him die.

Lutali, who does not belong to a sect, said she does not live in fear of dying because of her belief in the afterlife. She is looking for another hospital, possibly in Texas or Florida, where she can get a transplant without vaccination.

“I hope to be something that I can live by in terms of my choices,” she said.

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