- Father-of-two DJ Ferguson, 31, has been taken off the donor list for a life-saving heart transplant because he hasn’t gotten vaccinated against COVID-19
- Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital said their aim is to ‘create both the best chance for successful operation and the patient’s survival after transplantation’
- Being unvaccinated, along with other risk factors like being a cigarette smoker, can make patients ineligible for transplants
- But according to his father, Ferguson ‘doesn’t believe’ in the vaccine, and getting vaccinated is ‘against his principles’
- ‘My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,’ he told news outlets
An unvaccinated and gravely ill 31-year-old father-of-two has been taken off the donor list for a heart transplant by a Boston hospital because he ‘does not believe’ in the COVID vaccine.
DJ Ferguson, who has a hereditary heart condition that causes his lungs and heart to fill with blood and fluid, was denied the life-saving organ transplant by Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
The hospital said it removed Ferguson from the donor list because all transplant recipients need to get the vaccine in order to ‘create both the best chance for successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation.’
However, Ferguson’s father, David, said getting vaccinated is ‘kind of against his basic principles’ and that his son ‘doesn’t believe in it.’
‘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… It’s his body. It’s his choice.’
The hospital, which has a list of protocols for transplant candidates that includes a ban on lifestyle choices like smoking and alcohol, said requiring the COVID vaccine is common at many medical center’s throughout the country.
The mortality rate for transplant recipients who fall ill with COVID is more than 20 percent, according to UCHealth.
DJ Ferguson, 31 (pictured) has a hereditary heart condition that causes his lungs and heart to fill with blood and fluid without intervention from intravenous medication. He has been denied a life-saving heart transplant because he refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19
Ferguson’s family is considering moving him to another hospital, but he may not be able to be moved in his condition
Ferguson, right, is pictured with his wife, Heather Dawson, and their two children
Factors that can disqualify patients from organ transplants
- Not being vaccinated for COVID
- Untreated psychological disorders, like schizophrenia, that could prevent the patient from properly caring for themselves after the transplant
- A high risk of abusing alcohol after the transplant
- Active cigarette smoking within six months of the prospective transplant
- Substance abuse
- Severe local or systemic infection
- Cancer in the last 5 years except localized skin (not melanoma) or stage I breast or prostate
- Age appropriateness (for example, heart transplant recipients should not be more than 70 years of age, according to John Hopkins University guidelines)
- Inability to make a strong commitment to transplantation
- Insulin-requiring diabetes mellitus with end-organ damage
- Irreversible renal failure
- Acute pulmonary thromboembolism
- Inability to pay for transplant or post-operative care
‘My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit.’
Ferguson’s family is considering transferring him to another hospital, but his wife said that he may be too weak to move.
‘At this point DJ is unable to leave the hospital until he gets the heart surgery he needs. Without the surgery his lungs and heart will continue to fill up with blood and fluid (on top of everything else that’s going on),’ said Ferguson’s wife, Heather Dawson, on Facebook.
Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told CBS Boston that vaccination is a requirement for transplants because, after receiving a new organ, patients’ immune systems are essentially switched off.
‘The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you. 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,’ he explained.
Ferguson isn’t the first patient in need of a transplant who has been denied due to their vaccination status.
In October, Leilani Lutali of Colorado, 56, was taken off the transplant list at a University of Colorado Health hospital because she and her prospective kidney donor Jaimee Fougner, 45, hadn’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.
The pair were placed on a list for those who are ‘non-compliant by not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.’
Born-again Christian Lutali has refused to get inoculated because of the use of stem cells in developing some vaccines.
‘It’s a policy they are enforcing and so because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list of a heart transplant,’ Ferguson’s father David told CBS Boston
Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital (pictured) removed Ferguson from its donor list because has not gotten the COVID-19 vaccine and said in a statement that their aim is to ‘create both the best chance for successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation’
‘As a Christian, I can’t support anything that has to do with abortion of babies, and the sanctity of life for me is precious,’ Lutali said.
Fougner, Lutali’s friend and potential donor, has also denied the vaccine citing religious reasons.
Cells taken from elective abortions have been used to develop effective vaccines since the 1960s including current vaccines for rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and shingles.
None of the COVID vaccines contain aborted fetal cells, like some social media users have been falsely claiming. But they did utilize fetal cell lines in their development.
Colorado woman Leilani Lutali was removed from the kidney transplant list in October because she — and her donor — hadn’t been vaccinated.
UCHealth, which operates hospitals and urgent care facilities throughout Colorado, said that the COVID vaccine was one of several measures patients needed to take to give the organ the best chance of not being rejected.
The health system said the driving force behind its vaccine policy was studies showing transplant patients are more likely to die if they contract COVID-19. The mortality rate for transplant patients who get COVID is more than 20 percent, according to UCHealth.
In October, Leilani Lutali of Colorado, 56 (pictured), was taken off the transplant list at a University of Colorado Health hospital because she and her prospective kidney donor hadn’t gotten the COVID-19 vaccine
“An organ transplant is a unique surgery that leads to a lifetime of specialized management to ensure an organ is not rejected, which can lead to serious complications, the need for a subsequent transplant surgery, or even death,” UCHealth told The Post at the time.
“Physicians must consider the short and long-term health risks for patients as they consider whether to recommend an organ transplant.”
Ohio man Mike Ganin, who is vaccinated against COVID, was denied a kidney transplant last October because his donor hadn’t received her shot.
“I don’t want to get the vaccine. I’ve got reasons — medical, religious, and also freedom,” the donor, Sue George, told WKYC.