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Man who refuses COVID-19 vaccination denied heart transplant

Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 11:28 AM CST
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BOSTON (WBZ) - A father is speaking out to bring attention to the plight of his son.

The man needs a heart transplant, but doctors won’t give him one because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19.

“My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns,” said David Ferguson of his son DJ.

He says the 31-year-old is fighting for his life at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and in desperate need of a heart transplant.

“His heart has deteriorated so much that it won’t work on its own,” Ferguson said.

The family said he was at the front of the line to receive a transplant, but because he has not received the COVID-19 vaccination, he is no longer eligible, according to hospital policy.

And Ferguson said his son refuses to get the shot.

“It’s kind of against his basic principles. He doesn’t really believe in it,” he said.

Brigham and Women’s released a statement, saying they are “like many other transplant programs in the United States - the COVID-19 vaccine is one of several vaccines and lifestyle behaviors required for transplant candidates in the Mass General Brigham system in order to create both the best chance for a successful operation and also the patient’s survival after transplantation.”

“Post any transplant, kidney, heart, whatever, your immune system is shut off,” said Dr. Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

He said being vaccinated is necessary for this type of procedure.

“The flu could kill, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you. The organs are scarce, and they are not going to distribute them to someone who has a poor chance of living when others who are vaccinated have a better chance post-surgery of surviving,” Caplan said.

Currently, DJ is a patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He’s a father of two children with another child on the way.

The family said they are not sure what they’ll do at this time. They’re thinking about transferring. But right now they say he’s too weak to move.

While the family says DJ has received great care from doctors and nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, they just don’t agree with the heart transplant COVID-19 vaccination policy.

“It’s his body; it’s his choice,” Ferguson said.

A mechanical pump is another option for DJ instead of a transplant. Doctors will do that surgery even if he is not vaccinated.

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