'No jab, no heart': Aussie mum denied lifesaving surgery over vaccine rules

A Melbourne woman has reportedly been denied a heart transplant after deciding against medical advice to have a Covid vaccine.

A Melbourne mum has been refused a heart transplant because she hasn’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 – even though she has an exemption.

Vicki Derderian’s heart failed in 2020, forcing her to rely on a ventricular assist device (VAD) to keep blood pumping around her body.

The mum of two, who insists she’s not an anti-vaxxer, said she had to “think twice” about the vaccine because of her heart condition. While cases of myocarditis and pericarditis after Covid-19 vaccines are rare, they can be serious – which Ms Derderian deemed too risky.

Vicki Derderian lies in a hospital bed with tubes connected to her nose. She's being denied a heart transplant because she hasn't had a Covid vaccination.
Mum of two Vicki Derderian spent six weeks in ICU after her heart failed. She's being denied a heart transplant because she hasn't had a Covid vaccination. Source: Today Show

She slammed Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services for denying her the lifesaving surgery, saying she’s effectively been told “no jab, no heart”.

“The hospital stance at the moment is no jab, no heart. I'm ready to be on the heart transplant list because medically I'm stable to be on it. But unfortunately, because of these mandates, it has interfered with patient-doctor relationships,” she told Channel 9’s Today Show.

“Patients like myself, we're being pushed into a corner and coerced to take something that goes against what we believe in. Or not receive lifesaving treatment. And also for doctors as well, they are forced to implement this on their patients otherwise they'll lose their jobs.”

Former Deputy Chief Heath Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said while he empathises with Ms Derderian’s case, he “stands-by the rules”.

“From a transplant physicians point of view… the biggest risk to you when we hit your immune system like that if you get Covid-19 without having the vaccine, then there's a really significant risk that you'll die and that organ will die with you,” Dr Coatsworth told the show.

“And we don't want that to happen to you and we certainly don't want it to happen to the family whose made that sacred donation. So it is such a complex area. I don't envy your decision, but I do standby the rules of the transplant physicians have made here.”

Today Show host Karl Stefanovic interjected.

“So Nick, doctors are now deciding not to treat someone because of the chance of getting COVID-19 in a hospital, are we stopping treating people now?”

“On the contrary Karl,” Dr Coatsworth hit back. “This is an active treatment decision by the medical community. This hasn't changed during COVID-19.

Today Show host Karl Stefanovic crosses his arms as he questions Dr Nick Coatsworth
Karl Stefanovic questioned Dr Nick Coatsworth about the controversial decision. Source: Today Show

“I know there's a lot of greys in Covid-19 Karl, a lot of greys. You and I discussed them last week on this show. This is black and white. Unfortunately, we have to try and convince people like Vicki and John, we've got to do our best to convince them. If we fail ultimately that means the organ isn't transplanted.”

He also urged Ms Derderian to reconsider getting the vaccine, saying the risk of complications is “very, very small compared to everything that you've been through so far”.

“But from my heart, I hope that you will be able to work with them and perhaps receive that vaccine. If I was in your position I'd receive it because I think it's the safest thing to do. I think it's the safest thing to do. I know you don't agree with me. I respect that decision. But please, please reconsider.”

Ms Derderian stood her ground and said if she were to contract Covid, there are treatments available to deal with it.

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