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Woman denied kidney transplant 'as she hasn't had Covid vaccine'

A woman with stage five renal failure has been given 30 days to get the Covid-19 vaccine or she will be removed from her hospital’s kidney transplant list.

Leilani Lutali was only months away from getting a new kidney but now she and her donor Jaimee Fougner are scrambling to find a new hospital after being alerted to the new vaccination policy, according to CBS News.

UCHealth has implemented rules which require the majority of transplant recipients and living donors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A photo of Leilani Lutali and her donor, Jaimee Fougner. Source: CBS News
Leilani Lutali and her donor Jaimee Fougner are desperately searching for a new hospital that's willing to do the transplant surgery while they are unvaccinated. Source: CBS News

Both patient and donor unvaccinated

Neither woman has received the jab and didn’t know they needed to be vaccinated for the surgery until last week.

Ms Fougner told CBS News she hasn’t had her shots for religious reasons.

“It’s your choice on what treatment you have. In Leilani’s case, the choice has been taken from her. Her life has now been held hostage because of this mandate,” she said.

Ms Lutali, from Colorado in the US, cited “too many unknowns” as her reason for not getting vaccinated.

“At the end of August, they confirmed that there was no COVID shot needed at that time,” she told CBS News.

“Fast forward to September 28. That’s when I found out. Jamie learned they have this policy around the COVID shot for both for the donor and the recipient.”

She received a letter from UCHealth which stated the pair are: “non-compliant by not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.”

A letter from UCHealth which says they are “non-compliant by not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
A letter from UCHealth which says they are “non-compliant by not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine". Source: CBS News

The hospital has given them a strict deadline of 30 days to begin the vaccine series.

If they refuse, they will be removed from the kidney transplant list.

“I said I’ll sign a medical waiver. I have to sign a waiver anyway for the transplant itself, releasing them from anything that could possibly go wrong,” Ms Lutali said.

“It’s surgery, it’s invasive. I sign a waiver for my life. I’m not sure why I can’t sign a waiver for the COVID shot.”

New policy to protect patients

In a statement to CBS News, UCHealth said: “For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20% to more than 30%. This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries”

The women are now looking at other states after reportedly failing to find a hospital in Colorado willing to do the transplant while they’re unvaccinated.

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