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Canadian Denied Life-saving Medical Treatment After Choosing to Stay Unvaccinated Against COVID-19

Published: July 14, 2022
A Court of Queen’s Bench Judge has sided with doctors who have removed a woman from an organ transplant list for refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Image: GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images)

On July 12, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice, Paul Belzil, from Edmonton Alberta, Canada sided with doctors who decided to remove a woman from an organ transplant wait list because she refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, essentially condemning the woman to death.  

Annette Lewis, was diagnosed in 2018 with an incurable chronic, progressive disease that doctors told her would be fatal without an organ transplant. 

Lewis was originally told she was deemed healthy enough to qualify for a double lung transplant and in 2020 began to receive a series of vaccinations to prepare for the procedure. 

However, in March 2021 Lewis was told she was required to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in order to remain on the organ transplant wait list, a treatment she refused. Lewis told the court that she was concerned about the side effects associated with the vaccine and that “Taking this vaccine offends my conscience.”


According to a sworn affidavit Lewis said that a doctor told her that “if I did not take the COVID-19 vaccine, I would not get the transplant, and if I did not get the transplant, I would die.”

Lewis argued in her affidavit, “I ought to have the choice about what goes into my body and a life-saving treatment cannot be denied to me because I chose not to take an experimental treatment for a condition — COVID-19 — which I do not have and which I may never have.”

In June, during an injunction hearing, Lewis’s lawyer told the court that she “wants to survive, and she doesn’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize her survival.”

Alberta Health Services, and the hospital involved, responded by filing evidence about the transplant program, how patients qualify and the risks associated with a COVID-19 infection for transplant patients while insisting that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

The court was told that 1 in 5 people die in Alberta before a transplant becomes available. 

“The court was also told that patients can also be rejected on the basis that the transplant would increase the patient’s risk of death without a meaningful chance of improving the quality and duration of life,” the Westphalian Times reported. 

In the court’s ruling, Justice Belzil admitted that it was “beyond dispute” that Lewis was the primary decision maker when it comes to what medical procedures she chooses for herself and that she has the right to decide what goes into her body however said that he does not accept “that her beliefs and desire to protect her bodily integrity entitle her to impact the rights of other patients or the integrity of the [transplant program] generally,” further arguing that “No one has a right to receive transplants and no one is forced to undergo transplantation surgery.”

Current COVID-19 vaccines on the market do not prevent someone from contracting the disease or spreading it and there are numerous documented adverse effects associated with the vaccines. 

Lewis argued that the health care system, requiring her to receive an experimental treatment in order to access a life-saving medical procedure, infringed on her rights as set out by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms to which the judge responded, “The proposition that treating physicians exercising clinical judgment would be subject to the charter would result in medical chaos with patients seeking endless judicial review of clinical treatment decisions.”