Colorado Hospitals Bar Friends from Kidney Transplant Over COVID Vaccine Acceptance

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A nurse at La Paz hospital in Madrid on February 28, 2017 holds a kidney waiting to be transplanted. Colorado UCHealth Transplant Center has barred Jaimee Fougner from donating a kidney to a friend with stage 5 renal failure, Leilani Lutali, because the pair will not accept a COVID-19 injection.
A nurse at La Paz hospital in Madrid on February 28, 2017 holds a kidney waiting to be transplanted. Colorado UCHealth Transplant Center has barred Jaimee Fougner from donating a kidney to a friend with stage 5 renal failure, Leilani Lutali, because the pair will not accept a COVID-19 injection. (Image: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

A Colorado-based healthcare system has prevented a woman from donating an organ  to a friend with kidney failure after the duo has declined to accept COVID-19 vaccination

The story first came to light on Oct. 5 when Rep. Tim Geitner (R-CO) posted a photo of a paper letter penned by UCHealth Transplant Center in Aurora addressed to a transplant recipient, stating, “The transplant team at the University of Colorado has deemed that it is necessary to place you inactive on the waiting list. You will be inactivated on the list for non-compliance by not receiving the COVID vaccine.”

“You will have 30 days to begin the vaccination series. If your decision is to refuse COVID vaccination you will be removed from the kidney transplant list.”

In an Oct. 6 article, The Washington Post said, “UCHealth declined to discuss particular patients because of federal privacy laws. But the health system confirmed Tuesday that nearly all of its transplant recipients and organ donors must get vaccinated against the coronavirus, in addition to other vaccinations and health requirements.”

The Post characterized the story as “illustrat[ing] the growing costs of being unvaccinated.”

UCHealth justified the decision to Denver NBC affiliate 9News because “studies indicate the mortality rate for transplant recipients who test positive for COVID ranges from 18% to 32%, compared to a 1.6% mortality rate among all people who have tested positive.”

The patient, Leilani Lutali, told the outlet the policy came to her attention after her donor, Jaimee Fougner, was asked for her vaccination status during testing in advance of the transplant. 

Fougner told the outlet, “She said, ‘Oh, by the way, have you been vaccinated for COVID-19?’ I explained to her that no I hadn’t, and because of my religious beliefs I couldn’t be vaccinated for it, And she said ‘well, unfortunately, then that means your journey ends here.’”

Lutali said, “I found myself trying to understand where the Hippocratic oath comes into play here about do no harm. I’m being coerced into making a decision that is one I’m not comfortable making right now in order to live.”

9News said both of the women are declining vaccination because of their religious beliefs, expressing concern about vaccine manufacturers using fetal cell tissues in product testing. 

On Oct. 6, a Pfizer whistleblower came forward via Project Veritas with emails from company executives confirming that human embryonic kidney cells that derive from aborted fetal tissue are used in the company’s testing. Fetal cells are not used to construct the actual vaccine, however. 

Fougner told 9News that she is a medical assistant and was a medic in the Air Force, and is not opposed to vaccines, “I get my flu shot every year. I’ve been vaccinated with all my childhood vaccines. In the military, you get a few extras for wherever you travel to. So we are not anti-vax. But for me religiously – this vaccine, I cannot take.”

Denver CBS says that Lutali is suffering from Stage 5 renal failure, that the duo met each other in bible study 10 months ago, and that in August the pair were told COVID vaccine acceptance was not mandatory for transplant. 

“The women haven’t been able to find a hospital in Colorado that will do the transplant while they’re unvaccinated. They’re now looking at other states,” said the outlet.

In a recent DOD-backed artificial intelligence-processed examination of a cohort of 20 million Medicare patients, broken down into 5.6 million fully vaccinated patients aged 65+, the data showed 71 percent of all COVID diagnoses were not only fully vaccinated breakthrough cases, but that End Stage Renal Disease had the highest odds ratio as a risk factor for hospitalization in the dataset.

In an Oct. 5 story published by ABC affiliate KRDO, the station said that Lutali “claims she has already had covid.” Rep. Geitner also says the recipient-to-be has tested positive for the presence of antibodies from natural immunity. 

The Medicare study likewise found that those with a previous COVID positive diagnoses had by far the lowest odds ratio as a risk factor for hospitalization. 

A large preprint study from Israel examining anonymized health records from one of the country’s four mandatory health care providers also showed that recipients of the Pfizer vaccine who had not had a previous COVID diagnosis were at 27 times greater risk of developing symptomatic breakthrough infection than those who were unvaccinated, but had a previous positive PCR test. 

The phenomenon is not limited to the United States. In September, the University of Alberta in Canada told Annette Lewis, a 56-year-old woman with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in both lungs who was second-in-line for a lung transplant after waiting on a recipient list for two-and-a-half-years that if she does not accept vaccination she will be left to her own devices.

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.