No Vaccine? No Transplant. No Kidney-ing!

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The unvaccinated are today’s new untouchables—or so it seems, judging by some recent health care policy decisions.

The UCHealth system in Colorado has chosen to deny organ transplants to patients who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In defending its new policy, the Colorado health system cited data showing much higher COVID-19 mortality risks among transplant patients. It also said that other health care providers are moving toward likeminded policies, according to Fierce Healthcare.

But a Colorado GOP legislator, state Rep. Tim Geitner, said he is angry about this treatment of the unvaccinated. He called it “incredibly concerning” and “incredibly disgusting” during a Facebook Live video he did on the issue.

On Twitter and Facebook, Geitner posted an image of an actual letter to a patient (with all personal information blocked out)—in which the UCHealth Transplant Center at Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora informed the individual that she had been made “inactive” on the kidney transplant wait list because of “non-compliance” for “not receiving the COVID vaccine.”

The patient would have 30 days to begin the COVID vaccination process, the health system also instructed. But if that did not happen, the patient would be removed from the kidney transplant wait list altogether.

The patient, Geitner also said in his video on Tuesday of this week, already had a local donor in place—and the transplant surgery had been scheduled to occur at the University of Colorado Hospital. As of now, that is off the table.

Here is Geitner’s posting of the letter on Twitter (a tweet that has already gotten 1.6K likes as well as 1.3K retweets as of Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021):

A UCHealth spokesperson, Dan Weaver, said that any patient desiring a transplant must meet a set of prerequisites before surgery—and that such a policy was in place before the coronavirus pandemic, as The Denver Post reported. 

“Patients may also be required to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, or prove they will be able to continue taking their anti-rejection medications long after their transplant surgery,” the spokesperson also said. “These requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will be successful and the patient will avoid rejection.”

State Rep. Geitner also told his Facebook Live audience that it was “unfortunate” and “sad” that the potential transplant patient has been denied “a lifesaving procedure” because of her unvaccinated status.

But the patient, Geitner also said, has shown through testing that she has the natural antibodies for COVID.

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This denial of transplant surgery to an unvaccinated person in Colorado comes amid continued debate and discussion across the U.S. about appropriate ways to move forward in the wake of the pandemic. And citizens across the country are making their voices heard about mandates that include both vaccination and masking.

On Thursday morning, Axios reported that COVID-19 cases have been falling for weeks across the U.S.—and that the number of deaths are on the decline right now as well. “The U.S. is now averaging roughly 102,000 new cases per day—a 22 percent drop over the past two weeks,” Axios wrote.

Here are a variety of additional tweets on the topic of organ transplant denial for the unvaccinated—with an array of opinions.

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—By CNJ Staff

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