A growing number of medical facilities across the country are directing coveted organ donations to patients who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, pushing people who are unvaccinated or even vaccinated. that stays off the transplant waiting list.
The thinking behind the move is simple: With transmission of the pandemic coronavirus still in the US, unvaccinated candidates face an extremely high risk of COVID-19, which poses a threat to them and, in rare cases, lives. Threatens the usefulness of – saving organ.
Receiving a transplanted organ requires patients to take immunosuppressant drugs that will prevent their body from rejecting the new organ as foreign. But this immune suppression makes recipients more susceptible to becoming infected with the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and developing severe COVID-19. Some experts estimate that the risk of transplant recipients dying from COVID-19 ranges from 20 to 30 percent.
The odds of survival have long prioritized who will receive donated organs. And the need for vaccination against devastating infectious diseases is also standard. Organ recipients already usually need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza and tetanus, among other diseases.
Still, COVID-19 vaccines, which have been recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, are new on the list. American Society of Transplantation and the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT) on 13 August issued a joint statement recommending that “all solid organ transplant recipients be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2,” as should “all eligible household and close contacts” of those recipients. More and more transplant programs are adopting the policy—but not all are yet.
The reality of some organ waitinglists kicking unvaccinated patients recently made headlines with the story of a non-vaccinated Colorado woman named Leilani Lutali. UCHealth in Denver denied Lutali’s kidney transplant surgery because he had not been vaccinated and informed him in a letter that he would be “listed as”Inactiveon a kidney transplant waiting list if she didn’t receive her first vaccine dose within 30 days. Lutali, who told the Associated Press That she is a born-again Christian without a denomination, states that she opposes vaccines on religious grounds. With a patchwork of vaccine requirements for transplant patients, Lutali is now seeking transplants in another state, such as Texas or Florida, where COVID-19 vaccination is not required.
“I feel like I’m being forced not to be able to wait and see and have to get shots if I want this life-saving implant,” Lutali told Kaiser Health News.
The outlet noted that approx. 107,000 people waiting for organs US In—more than 90,000 of them, like Lutali, are waiting for the kidneys. KHN reported that dozens of people in need of various organs die every day while waiting.
“We mandate hepatitis and influenza vaccines, and nobody has a problem with it,” Dr Kapilkumar Patel, director of the lung transplant program at Tampa General Hospital in Florida, told KHN. “And now we have this one vaccination that can save lives and impact the post-transplant recovery phase. And we have this huge outcry from the public.”