According to his family, a 31-year-old Boston man was removed from the heart transplant waiting list because he refused to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
DJ Ferguson has been in the hospital since November due to an inherited cardiac problem. His family claims he was first on the list for the transplant at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, but due to his vaccination status, he is no longer eligible.
“Right now, we’re backed into a corner.” This is a very time-sensitive situation. We’re under duress to pick a shot that will kill him. This isn’t merely a political matter. “People need to have a choice,” commented Amanda Brodeur, a Ferguson family friend who set up a GoFundMe campaign to help him pay for his medical bills.
Ferguson’s father has stated that his son does not believe in the vaccine, but personal beliefs are insufficient to excuse the hospital from requiring vaccines for transplant recipients.
“The COVID-19 vaccine, like many other transplant programs in the United States, is one of numerous immunizations and lifestyle changes required of transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system in order to provide them the best chance of a successful procedure and the patient’s survival after transplantation,” the hospital said.
According to Brodeur, Ferguson is now in “serious end-stage heart failure,” which means he will need a heart transplant to live. His family is concerned that the shot would trigger heart enlargement, putting him at risk of abrupt death. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to cause transient heart swelling in patients, but the hospital would not budge.
Bringham & Women’s Hospital is one of many hospitals across the country that advises potential transplant patients to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. A booster shot is recommended by the University of California – San Francisco for transplant patients. “We encourage all of our transplant patients to get vaccinated since the benefits of vaccination far outweigh any concerns,” UCSF said in part. “We are confident that the vaccine is safe for almost everyone.” We propose COVID-19 vaccination for all pre-and post-transplant patients, all living donors, and all close contacts.” For immunocompromised persons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering a fourth injection.
Ferguson’s family is considering transferring him to a different hospital, but they are concerned that he may be too frail to do so. His family claims he had surgery on Tuesday to install a left ventricular assist device. For the time being, the device will pump his heart mechanically.