Could COVID-19 vaccination status impact placement on organ transplant list?

Two men both needed a heart transplant, one is an unvaccinated dad and the other has a criminal history. Only one man got a heart.

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This case leaves many wondering if doctors can make medical decisions based on the personal lives of their patients.


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Who got the heart?

D.J. Ferguson, a dad from Massachusetts with another baby on the way needs a heart. David Bennett Sr., a man from Maryland with a criminal history also needs a heart transplant. Read more about it here.

Bennett got the lifesaving transplant. The heart he received did not come from a human; it came from a genetically modified pig.

Ferguson is in the late stages of heart failure and has been denied a spot on the transplant wait list. He was denied because he hasn’t gotten vaccinated against COVID-19.

There are strong opinions on both cases.

Only days after Bennett’s surgery, he had made headlines worldwide. Bennett was also deemed ineligible to be on the transplant wait list. This, along with questionable actions of his past made many question if he was fit to receive the heart.

He is still doing well one month after the experimental surgery.

Ferguson, 31, is being kept alive with a heart pump. His family said the at he chose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because of his condition.


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Is this the only case?

Bennett’s case is an anomaly. The surgeons said that a decision was made based “solely on his medical records.”

There are cases similar to Ferguson’s panning out across the country. Cases are popping up in North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio. It’s not just hearts that people need either, it is kidneys and livers too.

It is standard practice for patients to be questioned extensively before being deemed eligible to be on the transplant wait list.

Patients can be turned away for a variety of reasons, many of which may seem unfair.

These standards are in place because there are far more people who need organ transplant than there are organs available.


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