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U.S. man removed from heart transplant list for being unvaccinated against COVID-19

David Ferguson is speaking out passionately on behalf 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. “My son has gone to the edge of death to stick to his guns and he’s been pushed to the limit,” Ferguson said.

The family says 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 says his son refuses to get the shot.

“It’s kind of against his basic principles, he doesn’t believe in it. It’s a policy they are enforcing and so because he won’t get the shot, they took him off the list of a heart transplant,” Ferguson said.

Brigham and Women’s released a statement saying, “And 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.”

Dr. Arthur Caplan is Head of Medical Ethics at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. He says being vaccinated is necessary for this type of procedure. “Post any transplant, kidney, heart whatever, your immune system is shut off,” Caplan said. “The flu could kill you, a cold could kill you, COVID could kill you. The organs are scarce, we 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.”

DJ remains at BWH. He is a father of two children with a third on the way. The family says they are not sure what they plan to do. They are thinking about transferring him, but he may be too weak to move. “We are aggressively pursuing all options, but we are running out of time,” Ferguson said.

While the family says DJ has received great care from doctors and nurses at Brigham and Women’s, they just don’t agree with the heart transplant COVID vaccination policy. “I think my boy is fighting pretty damn courageously and he has integrity and principles he really believes in and that makes me respect him all the more,” he said.

Which is why the family is sticking by his side and hoping for the best. “It’s his body. It’s his choice,” Ferguson said.

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