According to a new policy, a Colorado hospital system is denying organ transplants to patients who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 “in almost all situations.”
‘In Almost All Situation’
According to The Denver Post, a Colorado hospital system confirmed Tuesday that it denies transplants to people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 “in almost all situations,” claiming that the vaccine increases the likelihood of a successful transplant.
On Wednesday, UCHealth, which operates hospitals and urgent care centers throughout the state, confirmed to The Post that organ transplant recipients and living donors must now be vaccinated against COVID-19 before undergoing procedures.
The health system stated that studies showing transplant patients are more likely to die if they contract COVID-19 were the driving force behind the policy change. According to UCHealth, the mortality rate for transplant patients who receive COVID is more than 20%.
“This is why it is essential that both the recipient and the living donor be vaccinated and take other precautions prior to undergoing transplant surgery,” UCHealth said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear when the new policy went into effect or which situations did not require a COVID vaccine.
Outraged state GOP Rep. Tim Geitner announced on Facebook Live that a woman he knows had been denied a kidney transplant surgery at the University of Colorado Hospital for the time being because she has not been immunized against COVID-19.
The Falcon Republican said on Tuesday it was “incredibly frustrating, incredibly sad, incredibly disgusting,” and said the El Paso County woman seeking the transplant has a donor lined up.
UCHealth declined to comment on any specific patient’s case, but it did confirm that vaccination is required for organ transplant patients “in almost all situations.” According to Dan Weaver, a hospital spokesman, it’s common for transplant patients to be asked to meet a variety of conditions before, during, and after surgery — and this predates the pandemic.
Weaver wrote in an email to The Denver Post, “patients may be required to receive vaccinations including hepatitis B, MMR and others. 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. These requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will be successful and the patient will avoid rejection.”
Weaver went on to say that transplant patients who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 have a much higher mortality rate — between 20% and 30%, he said, compared to less than 2% in the general population for those who have tested positive for the virus.
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