Thu. May 19th, 2022

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman in Colorado with kidney failure in stage 5 was months away from getting a new kidney. Now she and her donor are looking for another hospital after learning UCHealth’s new policy.

According to UCHealth, the majority of transplant recipients and living donors must now be vaccinated against COVID-19. None of the women have received their shots.

Leilani Lutali met her donor, Jaimee Fougner, in Bible study just 10 months ago.

(Credit: Leilani Lutali and Jaimee Fougner)

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

Fougner says she did not receive the vaccine for religious reasons. Lutali has not been shot because she says there are too many strangers. Until last week, none of the women thought they should be vaccinated for the transplant.

“In late August, they confirmed that there was no need for a COVID shot at that time,” Lutali said. “Fast forward to September 28th. That was when I found out. Jamie learned that they have this policy around COVID shots for both the donor and the recipient. ”

The women received this letter from UCHealth:

(Credit: Leilani Lutali)

UCHealth says they “do not meet the requirements of not receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.” The hospital has given them 30 days to begin the vaccine series. If they refuse, they will be removed from the kidney transplant list.

“I said I signed a medical dispensation. I still have to sign a dispensation for the transplant itself and free them from anything that could possibly go wrong, ”Lutali said. “It’s surgery, it’s invasive. I sign a dispensation for my life. I’m not sure why I can not sign a waiver for the COVID shot. ”

UCHealth recently implemented the policy to protect patients’ health.

In a statement, UCHealth said:

“For transplant patients receiving COVID-19, mortality varies from about 20% to more than 30%. This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries. ”

UCHealth and transplant centers across the country are entitled to space to protect surgical patients. For example, patients may be required to receive other vaccinations such as hepatitis B and MMR and even make lifestyle changes. UCHealth says these requirements increase the likelihood that a transplant will succeed and the patient will avoid rejection.

“Here I am, willing to be a direct donor to her. It does not affect any other patient on the transplant list, ”said Fougner. “How can I sit here and allow them to murder my friend when I’ve got a really good kidney and can save her life?”

The women have not been able to find a hospital in Colorado that will perform the transplant while they are unvaccinated. They are now looking at other states.

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