A Boston-area hospital said it will not perform a heart transplant on a patient who refuses to get a Covid-19 vaccination.
DJ Ferguson, 31, was previously prioritized for a heart transplant at Brigham and Women’s hospital, but is no longer eligible as he refuses to get vaccinated, said Ferguson’s family, according to a report by CBS Boston.
“It’s kind of against his basic principles – he doesn’t believe in it,” said David Ferguson, his father. “It’s a policy they are enforcing and so, because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list [for] a heart transplant.”
Brigham and Women’s explained its reasoning in a statement: “Like many other transplant programs in the United States – the Covid-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines and lifestyle behaviors required for transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system in order to create both the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation.”
Other medical experts have declared their support of the hospital’s policy, noting that the immune system is extremely weak after a transplant, making vaccinations all the more important.
“Post any transplant, kidney, heart whatever, your immune system is shut off. The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, Covid could kill you,” said Dr Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told CBS Boston.
“The organs are scarce: we are not going to distribute them to someone who has a poor chance of living when others who are vaccinated have a better chance post-surgery of surviving.”
Ferguson’s family have said they are unsure of what to do next given his refusal to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. They have considered transferring him to a different facility but acknowledge he might not survive the trip.
“We are aggressively pursuing all options, but we are running out of time,” said David Ferguson.
The family said that while had received excellent care at Brigham and Women’s, they do not agree with the policy.
“I think my boy is fighting pretty damn courageously, and he has integrity and principles he really believes in, and that makes me respect him all the more,” said Ferguson of his son, who is a father of two children with another one on the way. “It’s his body. It’s his choice.”