AURORA, CO – A Colorado hospital has reportedly reversed its decision to grant a kidney transplant to a woman in stage 5 renal failure, citing her status as unvaccinated against COVID-19 being the reason after previously telling her that the transplant wasn’t dependent on her having received the jab.
Leilani Lutali has a kidney donor already lined up – Jaimee Fougner, a friend from Bible study who is also not inoculated against COVID – and health system UCHealth had previously told her that her eligibility to have the transplant procedure performed didn’t hinge on her vaccination status.
“At the end of August, they confirmed that there was no COVID shot needed at that time,” Lutali said. “Fast forward to September 28. That’s when I found out. Jamie learned they have this policy around the COVID shot for both for the donor and the recipient.”
At that time, Lutali said that a letter from UCHealth informed her that both she and Fougner needed to have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine within 30 days, and would not be allowed to go through with the transplant if they did not comply.
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“I said I’ll sign a medical waiver. I have to sign a waiver anyway for the transplant itself, releasing them from anything that could possibly go wrong,” said Lutali. “It’s surgery, it’s invasive. I sign a waiver for my life. I’m not sure why I can’t sign a waiver for the COVID shot.”
Fougner was distraught for her friend’s predicament, and noted that the two have been scrambling to find hospitals outside of Colorado who will operate despite their unvaccinated status, since neither woman is willing to take the jab; Fougner for religious reasons, and Lutali due to what he said are the unknowns surrounding it.
“Here I am, willing to be a direct donor to her. It does not affect any other patient on the transplant list,” Fougner said. “How can I sit here and allow them to murder my friend when I’ve got a perfectly good kidney and can save her life?”
UCHealth has stated that they have issued the vaccination mandate in their hospitals for the health and safety of patients and staff.
“For transplant patients who contract COVID-19, the mortality rate ranges from about 20 percent to more than 30 percent. This shows the extreme risk that COVID-19 poses to transplant recipients after their surgeries,” they said.