Leilani Lutali, a newborn Christian from Colorado, went with his faith.
Although she has stage five kidney disease, which puts her at risk of dying without a new kidney, Ms Lutali, 56, said she could not accept being vaccinated because of the role that fetal cell lines played in some vaccine development. .
Several types of cell lines created decades ago using fetal tissues are widely used in the manufacture or testing of medical products, although the cells used today are clones of the early cells, not the original tissue.
“As a Christian, I cannot support anything that has to do with the abortion of babies, and the sanctity of life for me is precious,” she said.
UCHealth is demanding that transplant recipients be vaccinated because recipients are at significant risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as being hospitalized and dying from the virus, spokesman Dan Weaver said.
Unvaccinated donors can also pass on COVID-19 to the recipient, even if they initially tested negative for the disease, he said.
“Studies have found that transplant patients receiving COVID-19 may have a mortality rate of 20 percent or higher,” he said.
It is not clear how common this type of policy is.
The American Hospital Association, which represents nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems and networks in the United States, said it had no data to share on the issue.
But it said many transplant programs insist that patients be vaccinated against COVID-19 because of the weakened state of their immune system.
Although any type of surgery can stress a patient’s immune system and leave them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 later, recipients of organ transplants are even more vulnerable because they have to take a powerful drug regimen to suppress their immune system to keep their body from rejects the new body, which is seen by the body as a foreign body, said Nancy Foster, AHA’s vice president of quality and patient safety policy in a statement.
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“Furthermore, if patients had to wait to receive their vaccine until after surgery, it is unlikely that their immune system could mount the desired antibody response as they take anti-rejection medication,” she said.
Transplant centers in Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts and Alabama have policies that require recipients to be vaccinated, according to news reports.
The Cleveland Clinic recently decided to require COVID-19 vaccinations for both transplant recipients and living donors, the organization said in a statement.
Some health systems strongly recommend or encourage vaccination for transplants, including the Mayo Clinic and Sentara Healthcare, two of the country’s largest.
The University of Alabama Birmingham’s School of Medicine transplant program only recommends that living donors receive a vaccine, but it does not require it for the donation process.
The best time to get a COVID-19 vaccine is before an organ transplant.
If time allows, patients should receive their second dose of the available vaccines at least a few weeks before transplantation “so your body has a good immune response to the vaccine,” said Dr. Deepali Kumar, president of the American Society of Transplantation and an infectious disease physician.
Many major religious denominations have no objections to the COVID-19 vaccinations. However, the rollout has provoked heated debates due to the long-standing role that cell lines derived from fetal tissue have directly or indirectly played a role in the research and development of various vaccines and medicines.
Roman Catholic leaders in New Orleans and St. Louis went so far as to call Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 shot “morally compromised.”
J&J has emphasized that there is no fetal tissue in the vaccine.
In addition, the Vatican’s Doctrine Office has said that it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines based on research using cells derived from aborted fetuses. Pope Francis himself has said it would be “suicide” not to get shot, and he has been completely vaccinated with the Pfizer formula.
Ethical considerations should take into account both individual and societal perspectives, said Dr. Kumar.
“It really is the best thing for the patient at this point and also from a societal perspective,” she said. “The more patients who are vaccinated, you know we have better results.”
For Mrs. Lutali, a recruiter for technology companies, it seems that her hospital was so insistent on rescuing her from COVID-19 who is willing to let her die by blocking her transplant surgery.
Ms Lutali, who does not belong to a denomination, said she does not live in fear of dying because of her belief in life after death. She is looking for another hospital, possibly in Texas or Florida, where she could get a transplant without being vaccinated.
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“I have hope that there will be something, there is something I can live with in terms of my choices,” she said.