Many medical facilities in the United States are now directing organ donations to patients who have been vaccinated for COVID-19. This is helping people who are still unvaccinated to get off the transplantation waiting list or pushing them down.
This move is based on a simple idea: Unvaccinated transplant candidates in the US face a high risk of COVID-19 transmission, which can pose a threat to their health and threaten the life-saving organs.
Patients must take immunosuppressant medications to prevent their bodies rejecting a transplanted body organ. This immune suppression makes recipients more susceptible to contracting the pandemic coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), and subsequently, severe COVID-19. Experts estimate that the risk of transplant recipients dying from COVID-19 can be as high as 20% to 30%.
Prioritizing donors of organs has been done based on survival odds. It is also a standard requirement to be vaccinated against deadly infectious diseases. Most organ recipients must be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, influenza, and Tetanus.
The Food and Drug Administration has just approved COVID-19 vaccines. The American Society of Transplantation and International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT), released a joint statement on August 13 recommending that all recipients of solid organ transplants be vaccinated against SARS/CoV-2. This includes eligible household members and close friends. The policy is being adopted by more transplant programs, but not all.
Unvaccinated patients are often kicked off organ waiting lists. This was recently illustrated by the story about Leilani Lutali, a Colorado woman who was not vaccinated. UCHealth Denver denied Lutali kidney transplant surgery due to her unvaccinated status. They also informed Lutali in a letter that she would be "inactivated" from a kidney transplant waiting lists if she did not receive a vaccine within 30 days. Lutali, who stated to the Associated Press she is a Christian born again without a religious affiliation, said she objected to vaccines for religious reasons. Lutali, who is against the current national vaccine requirements for transplant patients in Texas and Florida, is now looking to get a transplant in another country, Texas or Florida that does not require COVID-19 vaccination.
Lutali said that she feels like she is being coerced into waiting and seeing and that she must get the shot if I want to receive this life-saving transplant.
According to the outlet, nearly 107,000 Americans are waiting for organs. More than 90,000. These people, including Lutali, are waiting for a donor kidney. KHN reported that dozens of people who are in desperate need of organs die every day while they wait.
KHN was informed by Dr. Kapilkumar Ptel, who is the director of the Tampa General Hospital's lung transplant program. Hepatitis and influenza vaccines are mandatory. Now we have one vaccine that can save lives, and help with the recovery phase after transplant. We have a huge uproar among the public.